Rep. Pete Hoekstra today called on the CIA to release notes taken in a September 2002 intelligence briefing of him and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, marking week two in a fight of he said she said that is growing to Dostoevskian proportions.
Presumably the notes, which Hoekstra says he’s reviewed at the CIA, will clear up who is right and who is lying. Hoekstra says they were told of the Administration’s waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques at that briefing; Pelosi maintains that while the techniques were described to them they were not informed that such practices had already been employed. Justice Department documents recently revealed that one terrorist, Abu Zubaydah, was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002, a month before the briefing.
This information, however, is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents [memorandums for the record] completed at the time and notes that summarizes the best recollections of the individuals. In the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened.
Pelosi’s office in a press release last week reiterated her statement from December 2007 where she said she was only briefed on techniques described to her as those that might be employed in the future. The statement also noted: “a cover letter from CIA Director Panetta accompanying the briefings memo released this week concedes that the descriptions provided by the CIA may not be accurate.”
Hoekstra is using the brouhaha over whether Pelosi knew about the waterboarding as a retort to Pelosi’s call for a Truth Commission. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last month Hoekstra warned that the first place such a commission should look is who in Congress supported and authorized such programs, rather than persecuting those ordered to carry out the waterboarding or the lawyers hired to legally justify such acts.
The CIA is unlikely to ever fully release these MFRs, so Hoekstra’s call is more political than in earnest. President Obama has already declared his opposition to a Truth Commission. And Pelosi has endured several brutal newscycles that hardly paused during her surprise Mother’s Day trip to Iraq. So, like most games of he said she said, everyone loses.