Scott, Angle ignored Panetta's caveats about accuracy of CIA summary of Pelosi briefing
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Jon Scott and Jim Angle reported on a CIA document that, in Scott's words, "says that Nancy Pelosi was briefed about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding back in 2002." However, neither noted Leon Panetta's caveats regarding the accuracy of the document.
During the May 8 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott stated that "the CIA now says that Nancy Pelosi was briefed about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding back in 2002, which seems to contradict what Speaker Pelosi said in a news conference two weeks ago." Chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle indicated that the source for this information was "the official record of the briefings released by the Director of National Intelligence [that] indicates the briefings were indeed on the particular techniques that had already been used on Abu Zubaydah." However, neither Scott nor Angle noted that, in a letter that accompanied the document, CIA director Leon Panetta described its source and suggested that it may not be "an accurate summary of what actually happened," as noted by Washington Post Co. blogger Greg Sargent earlier that day.
Panetta's letter, sent to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), ranking minority member Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), and other members of Congress, states that the information in the attached intelligence documents "is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents MFRs [memorandums for the record] completed at the time and notes that summarized the best recollections" of individuals involved. Each letter also states that "[i]n the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened." From Panetta's letter:
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.
From the May 8 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
SCOTT: To the East Coast now, where the big question in Washington these days is: What did the Speaker of the House know, and when did she know it? The CIA now says that Nancy Pelosi was briefed about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding back in 2002, which seems to contradict what Speaker Pelosi said in a news conference two weeks ago: "We were not, I repeat, we were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used."
A CIA memo also describes an intelligence briefing, where Pelosi was present, when enhanced interrogation techniques, or EITs, were discussed. It reads: "Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a decription of particular EITs that had been employed."
Jim Angle is live in Washington. All right, what have we learned in all the back-and-forth here, Jim?
ANGLE: Well, Jon, until recently, Ms. Pelosi's office had always acknowledged that she had been briefed in September 2002 on the enhanced interrogation techniques. It was only recently that she offered a different account suggesting that she knew they were going to be used but not that they had been used. But the official record of the briefings released by the director of national intelligence indicates the briefings were indeed on the particular techniques that had already been used on Abu Zubaydah. That was the first high-level terrorist who was captured.
So it is clear that Ms. Pelosi, at least from the official record, that she did get that briefing on the techniques. She got one briefing while she was on the intelligence committee with Republican Porter Goss. The bigger story here, Jon, is how many other lawmakers who are now critical of the program were fully briefed themselves and raised no objections at the time? Jon.
SCOTT: So a lot of these other lawmakers who are now squawking -- a lot of them did know at the time?
ANGLE: Lots of lawmakers. There were 40 briefings in all, starting early on with the top Democrats and Republicans on the intelligence committees. Senator Jay Rockefeller, for instance, was repeatedly briefed, as was Jane Harman, who took over Pelosi's spot on the House Intelligence Committee. In one briefing after another, Jon, the official log shows the techniques were, quote, "described in considerable detail, including how the waterboard was used," unquote. That's one briefing from February of 2002.
Other briefings even used slide presentations of both the enhanced interrogation techniques comparing them to non-enhanced techniques. Lawmakers were also told the interrogation methods were similar to what the U.S. military uses in training of Special Forces and pilots, and that includes the waterboard. So, lots of detail, Jon.
SCOTT: So I guess, you know, the question is, a lot people are objecting now, but when they were briefed back then, did anyone who got the briefing, did they raise objections?
ANGLE: Not that we know of. In fact, from the beginning of the program in 2002 until it became public in the fall of 2006, for instance, the House held 13 votes to authorize intelligence funds without anyone demanding changes or even raising objections. Only when it leaked out did those who already knew about it start saying how horrible it had been.
Remember, these were the months after 9-11; the CIA was getting actionable intelligence that helped disrupt several terrorist plots. Lawmakers apparently didn't want to stop that, but when it became public, many shifted gears and started criticizing a program they had known about for years -- Jon.
SCOTT: Isn't that interesting? Jim Angle, thank you.