The National Review and Wall Street Journal Continue to Lie About Bush Era Torture

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Either Peter Kirsanow and the National Review did not read the CIA’s inspector General 2004 report about torture or simply wrote a column trying to shift attention yet once again to what Speaker Pelosi was or was not briefed on, without bothering to read the report at all. Pelosi vs. the CIA : Who Lied?

(Pelosi went on to say that the CIA lies to Congress “all the time”). According to the IG report, the agency briefed the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees — that includes Speaker Pelosi — in the fall of 2002, as well as in February and March of 2003, and continued to do so thereafter.

The IG report states that none of the congressional participants — that includes Speaker Pelosi — expressed any concerns about the EITs or the program itself.

There is nothing, nada, zero in the IG report that says the CIA told what would then have been Congresswoman Pelosi that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. One cannot help but ask about the obvious omission from the National Review of the passage where it says that Pelosi knew about that episode. Why didn’t Kirsanow produce a quote or scene shot of the pdf that proves once and for all that Pelosi knew the details about hanging detainees by their arms or locking them in small boxes or murdering them. Here Kirsanow has the opportunity to lay out the smoking gun evidnce, but instead simply points to an editorial with a longer and rambling version of the national Reviews unsupported claims at the WSJ, The Real CIA News

“In the fall of 2002, the Agency briefed the leadership of the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of both standard techniques and EITs. . . . Representatives . . . continued to brief the leadership of the Intelligence Oversight Committees on the use of EITs and detentions in February and March 2003. The [CIA] General Counsel says that none of the participants expressed any concern about the techniques or the Program . . .” Ditto in September 2003.

Of course the CIA claims in this report they informed Congress, only current CIA director Leon Penatta has made it crystal clear that the CIA misled Congress, Panetta Admits CIA Misled Congress on “Significant Actions”

CIA Director Leon Panetta told the House Intelligence Committee that the agency had misled and “concealed significant actions from all members of Congress” dating back to 2001 and continuing until late June (2009), according to a letter from seven Democrats on the panel.

The letter was dated June 26, two days after Panetta appeared before a closed door session with the committee and it asked that the CIA chief “correct” his statement from May 15 that “it is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress.”

“Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week,” states the letter to Panetta from Anna G. Eshoo of California, Alcee L. Hastings of Florida, Rush D. Holt of New Jersey, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Adam Smith of Washington, Mike Thompson of California and John F. Tierney of Massachusetts.

Kirsanow uses some scare quotes in, Pelosi went on to say that the CIA lies to Congress “all the time”. How we’re all supposed to be shocked that a member of Congress or anyone would say the CIA lies, but just as when Pelosi made that remark back in May of 2009 we all know that for years Conservatives frequently asserted the CIA lied all the time. In fact the National Review wrote,

The reasons for Porter Goss’s abrupt departure as CIA director are shrouded in mystery. But its effect is not. It gives the impression that there has been a coup by the CIA insiders who have waged a covert policy war against the Bush administration for five years. The White House must act quickly to correct the impression that the renegades have won.

[ ]..During the Bush presidency, however, the agency has not been content with subtly pushing its own agenda while underperforming its nominal mission. It has run amok. In fact, it worked assiduously—though unsuccessfully—to depose the administration in the 2004 election, and since then has continued brazenly undermining Bush’s foreign policy.

Conservatives were not just accusing the CIA of being a bunch of liars they were accusing the entire organization of being a treasonous fifth column. As usual when the fringe Right condemns someone or some organization they are absolutely correct, except a few months later they do a 180, they’re also correct once again. Its a very malleable kind of truth that seems to apply ever so conveniently to whatever they feel it should mean depending on which way the political winds are blowing. More on conservatives calling the CIA a bunch of liars here. The CIA IG Report’s “Other” Contents

This is not to say that the interrogation program has worked perfectly. According to the IG Report, the CIA, at least initially, could not always distinguish detainees who had information but were successfully resisting interrogation from those who did not actually have the information. See IG report at 83-85. On at least one occasion, this may have resulted in what might be deemed in retrospect to have been the unnecessary use of enhanced techniques. On that occasion, although the on-scene interrogation team judged Zubaydah to be compliant, elements with CIA Headquarters still believed he was withholding information. [Redaction of more than one full line] See id, at 84. At the direction of CIA Headquarters interrogators, therefore used the waterboard one more time on Zubaydah. [Redaction of ~3/4 of a line] See id, at 84-85.

This example, however, does not show CIA “conduct [that is] intended to injure in some way unjustifiable by any government interest,” or “deliberate indifference” to the possibility of such unjustifiable injure. Lewis, 523 U.S. at 849. As long as the CIA reasonably believed that Zubaydah continued to withhold sufficiently important information, use of the waterboard was supported by the Government’s interest in protecting the Nation from subsequent terrorist attacks. The existence of a reasonable, good faith belief is not negated because the factual predicates for that belief are subsequently determined to be false. Moreover, in the Zubaydah example, CIA Headquarters dispatched officials to observe the last waterboard session. These officials reported that enhanced techniques were no longer needed. See IG Report at 85. Thus the CIA did not simply rely on what appeared to be credible intelligence but rather ceased using enhanced techniques despite this intelligence.

If the CIA was conflicted on what was done, when and how effective torture was then how could they have given one member of the Intel Committee the truth. Conservatives tried this slight of hand four months ago with the grotesque assertion that it was not important that Bush and Cheney broke laws forbidding torture. Nor was it important that John Yoo and David Addington gave the Bush administration outlandish legal arguments to cover then respective asses. No what’s important is whether one Democratic member of a committee chaired by Conservatives is what is important. While its true that an old dog can learn new tricks, the same cannot be said of Republicans.