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Exclusive! Pro-Torture Spooks Continue to Play Journalists for Chumps!

This chump journalist thing seems to be more virulent than swine flu.

The Moonie Times has an !!!EXCLUSIVE!!! reporting that Silvestre Reyes (who of course joined the Gang of Four after the torture program and the illegal wiretap program became public) thinks Congress is partly responsible for the "interrogation controversy."

In a rare gesture, House intelligence committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes sent a letter this week to all CIA employees suggesting that Congress shared some blame for the CIA interrogation controversy and should play a more robust role in the intelligence policymaking process.

The letter, which was sent Wednesday and made available to The Washington Times on Thursday, appeared to undercut remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that there was little Congress could do about harsh interrogations, including waterboarding. [my emphasis]

Only, that’s not what the letter says.

One important lesson to me from the CIA’s interrogation operations involves congressional oversight. I’m going to examine closely ways in which we can change the law to make our own oversight of CIA more meaningful; I want to move from mere notification to real discussion. Good oversight can lead to a partnership, and that’s what I am looking to bring about.

The tip-off to Moonie’s chumps should be "mere notification," which (as Pelosi has said) is not the same as approval.

But don’t take my word on basic English–check out what Reyes said to the Hill about his letter.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes said he agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that members of Congress have been too limited in how they can respond to briefings about intelligence policies they oppose.

"The system we have now is a one-way discussion," Reyes (D-Texas) said in an interview with The Hill on Friday. "In the final analysis, they’re going to do what they’re going to do."


The Washington Times reported the letter exclusively Friday, and said the letter "appeared to undercut remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that there was little Congress could do about harsh interrogations, including waterboarding."

Reyes said that was not the case.

"It’s pure and simple conservative spin," Reyes said. "And it’s a disservice to our intelligence personnel all over the world."

Misreading Reyes’ letter is not the only thing the chumps from the Moonie Times did. They exhibited either willful blindness to the public record or plain old ignorance. For example, they let Crazy Pete Hoekstra claim,"members of Congress knew all about these programs."

A former chairman of the House intelligence panel and its current ranking member, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, called the Reyes letter "unprecedented."

"I’ve got to believe the feedback they are getting from the community prompted this," Mr. Hoekstra told The Times. "Here members of Congress knew all about these programs, and here fellow CIA employees are getting thrown under the bus. From my standpoint, I think it is unprecedented for the CIA to receive a letter like this from a chairman."

But the public record, including Porter Goss’ own statements, show that when Nancy Pelosi got her the one briefing she got before 2006, those members of Congress weren’t told the most important fact: that the CIA had already waterboarded Abu Zubaydah.

And when Moonie’s chumps say,

The budgeting process for the intelligence community gives members of the oversight committees authority to withhold funding for activities without disclosing classified programs.

I guess they were so busy attacking Nancy Pelosi that they couldn’t read this basic English from her, either.

And that’s why I, when I became Speaker, established this joint committee between the Appropriations Committee and the Intelligence Committee, because the fact is they really were not fully briefing the Intelligence Committee. And they have to answer to the Appropriations Committee because that’s where their funding comes from.

It is a long story, it’s an evolution. It used to be the Intelligence Committee – you couldn’t appropriate unless the Intelligence Committee authorized. It was almost effectively an appropriation. Over time the Intelligence in the Bush years became part of supplementals so there was absolutely no sharing of information. They would just stick the request in the supplementals. We said, "Okay, if they are going right to appropriations, we will have members of the Intelligence Committee serve in this hybrid committee, part Intelligence, part Appropriations." [my emphasis]

Once again, I don’t want to let Pelosi totally off the hook and I absolutely support Reyes’ and Pelosi’s efforts to force CIA to do more than provide (as Reyes said) "mere notification." After the fact. Six months after the fact. Mere notification.

But Moonie’s chumps would have you believe that Nancy Pelosi, through some super-human powers, can undo 83 uses of waterboarding after they have already occurred.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.