Whoopsie Part XIV

by digby

Last Friday:

MATTHEWS: To make an institutional charge is pretty dangerous against an agency that specializes in winning wars, CIA. For her to go after and call them liars, in effect...

Escalate's a great word from Vietnam. Jim, what she did by attacking the CIA as an institution, forced the head of the CIA, her former colleague and friend in colleague, and maybe current friend, to say basically not only do we have notes of that meeting, which were contemporaneous and authoritative in that regard, but those notes say that she was told that we used the water boarding in the past tense. Clearly nailing her 180 from what she‘s claiming.

There you have it. The CIA notes are "authoritative" and "clearly nailed" Pelosi. (And the CIA "wins wars" which should come as a surprise to the Pentagon ...)

Except, you know, they aren't and they didn't:

Dem Rep David Obey writes a letter to CIA director Leon Panetta, saying that the agency’s recently-released documents detailing torture briefings botched another fact, raising more doubts about the accuracy of the CIA’s claims:

Dear Director Panetta:

In light of current controversy about CIA briefing practices, I was surprised to learn that the agency erroneously listed an appropriations staffer as being in a key briefing on September 19, 2006, when in fact he was not. The list the agency released entitled “Member Briefings on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs)”, shows that House Appropriations Committee defense appropriations staffer Paul Juola was in that briefing on that date. In fact, Mr. Juola recollects that he walked members to the briefing room, met General Hayden and Mr.Walker, who were the briefers, and was told that he could not attend the briefing. We request that you immediately correct this record.


David R. Obey

As Sargent notes, it's not the biggest deal in the world, but it is yet another piece of proof that these "authoritative" notes are just a teensy bit sloppy.

Update: And by the way, it's not like Panetta himself didn't indicate, however obliquely, that the memos were drawn from "best recollections" of past events:

This letter presents the most thorough information we have on dates, locations, and names of all Members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques. This information, however, is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents MFRs completed at the time and notes that summarized the best recollections of those individuals. In the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened. We can make the MFRs available at CIA for staff review.

He doesn't say that these notes were collected after the fact, but he certainly does leave open the possibility. And it's looking more and more like it was done years later:

Here's yet another reason (as if more were needed) to doubt that that CIA briefings document perfectly reflects what lawmakers were told about torture back in the early days of the war on terror.

Almost every briefing described in the document -- including the September 2002 Pelosi briefing that's directly at issue -- refers to "EITs," or enhanced interrogation techniques, as a subject that was discussed. But according to a former intelligence professional who has participated in such briefings, that term wasn't used until at least 2006.

That's not just an issue of semantics. The former intel professional said that by using the term in the recently compiled document, the CIA was being "disingenuous," trying to make it appear that the use of such techniques was part of a "formal and mechanical program." In fact, said the former intel pro, it wasn't until 2006 that -- amid growing concerns about the program among some in the Bush administration -- the EIT program was formalized, and the "enhanced interrogation techniques" were properly defined and given a name.