Monday, May 18, 2009

The Republican Media- No. 22

The Repub spin machine is striving to switch responsibility to Representative Nancy Pelosi (D.-Ca.) for the torture which was supported, probably authorized, and possibly ordered, by then-Vice President Dick Cheney. And it has a willing accom;ice in the mainstream media. Even MSNBC's Chris Matthews, whose contempt for Richard Earl Cheney would be excessive if such a thing were possible, on Monday's Hardball told Lois Romano and Michael Eric Dyson

Michael, this is the first time that the president has been upstaged. There‘s more talk about Pelosi now. First time since he got elected. She‘s taking a show away from him. And she‘s in trouble on this issue. And Panetta could release those records, those memoranda for the records that could show her in a bad light, show that she was briefed on the issue of water boarding, if she was. It could be trouble here.

Or perhaps Leon Panetta, now director of the CIA, is acting in his role as Director of the CIA. Panetta was not nominated by the President to be a Democrat or to remain a friend of the former ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but rather to be a cabinet officer. Mr. Panetta surely knows that any perceived wavering would give the Repubs the chance they relish to impugn the patriotism of yet another Democrat. Further, the Democratic President he serves already is regularly attacked on talk radio as having divided loyalties.

Given any doubt, then, CIA director Panetta is going to back his agency against any criticism by the Speaker of the House, or anyone other than the President, Presidential Press Secretary Gibbs, or the Vice-President (maybe).

And there is a possibility, however slight, that the CIA is being both honest and accurate. Repubs like to charge that Pelosi has accused the agency of lying, enabling them to charge (without explanation) that she is accusing the agency of breaking the law, thus necessitating an investigation of her behavior, or perhaps even resignation as Speaker. (The failure to consider the possibility that a CIA employee was wrong may be the first time in recorded history that a conservative Republican has discounted the possibility that a government employee may have been inefficient or incompetent.)

But evidence is mounting that the CIA's version of events does not accord with objective reality. Last week, Florida's Bob Graham, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, explained

Several weeks ago, when this issue started to bubble up, I called the CIA and asked for the dates in which I had been briefed," Graham tells Robert Siegel. "They gave me four: two in April of '02, two in September."

Graham says he consulted his logs "and determined that on three of the four dates there was no briefing held."

He adds: "On one date, Sept. 27, '02, there was a briefing held and, according to my notes, it was on the topic of detainee interrogation."

Graham says the CIA was initially reticent when he told the agency what he had found in his notes.

"They said, 'We will check and call back,'" Graham recalled. "When they finally did a few days later, they indicated that I was correct. Their information was in error. There was no briefing on the first three of four dates."

Graham says the agency offered no explanation regarding how it came up with the other dates.

So if the CIA was 25% accurate as pertains to the number of briefings it gave Graham, was it accurate as to the particular source of the briefing? reported yesterday that Bob Graham had appeared on C-Span's Washington Journal that morning and reported that he was briefed by representatives of the CounterTerrorism Center (supported by, notes indicate, the CIA's Office of Congressional Affairs). However, he actually was briefed by the Office of Congressional Affairs.

There has been little attention paid during this controversy to the log kept by the former Florida Senator, which obviously cast doubt on the accuracy of the CIA. Nor has there been sufficient attention paid to the circumstances surrounding briefings of congressional leaders by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA gets to take notes, which cannot be scanned by other partipants, none of whom may themselves: take notes, reveal to anyone anything about the briefing, nor make detailed notes thereafter. (Graham, famous for keeping a diary of virtually his every action, thus was prohibited from recording details of the meeting.) The CIA obviously (except not so obviously, as it has been glossed over) is not required to secure, nor is it in the habit of soliciting, approval from those it briefs.

This would be tolerable if the media were unaware that it is being played by one of the two major political parties. But it is aware, and is all too pleased to play the game.

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