House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has had a tough week — much of it her own making. But in looking at the substance of the accusations, it increasingly looks like she was right. Porter Goss was careful to parse his words in the conditional future tense when talking about what, exactly, he and Pelosi were briefed on in September 2002:
Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned.
And Senator Richard Shelby also carefully avoided saying he’d been briefed on EITs that had already been used, saying only that he’d been told about the techniques. And “purported” isn’t exactly a strong word – it’s a synonym of suggested or claimed. From his statement:
As Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2002, Senator Shelby was briefed by the CIA on the Agency’s interrogation program and the existence of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs). To his recollection, not only did the CIA briefers provide what was purported to be a full account of the techniques, they also described the need for these techniques and the value of the information being obtained from terrorists during questioning.
Bob Graham, who was theoretically in the room with Shelby, says he has no recollection of the meeting at all – this from a man who famously details his every waking minute. Perhaps the most astonishing response has been from the CIA Director Leon Panetta, who basically said: Don’t trust our records. Which begs the question: what other issues have they kept questionable records on?
But all of this has been lost in the GOP sturm und drang, led, by – of all people – Pete Hoekstra and Newt Gingrich. Yes, Pelosi needs a serious lesson in public relations but it increasing looks like there’s nothing wrong with her memory.