Almost four weeks ago, I pointed out that Porter Goss’ WaPo op-ed, purportedly attacking Nancy Pelosi, actually supported her primary contention that the CIA did not brief her and Goss that torture techniques had already been employed. It’s a detail that has gone almost unnoticed, as Republicans try to claim Nancy Pelosi should resign because Dick Cheney tortured.

But not entirely unnoticed. Greg Sargent has been patiently pushing for some clarification from Porter Goss. And today he got that clarification. Or rather, lack thereof: Goss has declined to say anything more than appeared in his WaPo op-ed, which (like Pelosi) speaks of torture prospectively. 

I asked a spokesperson for Goss if he would confirm that he and Pelosi had been informed of the use of torture. Goss was out of town, so it took her a while to get back to me, but now she has: She declined to answer the question, saying that Goss would not elaborate beyond what he said in a Washington Post Op ed last month.

In that carefully-worded piece, Goss did not write he had been told that torture had been used. Rather, he merely wrote that members of Congress were told that the CIA was “holding and interrogating” suspects and that EITs had been developed. He said that members should have “understood” that EITs “were to actually be employed” in the future, without saying that they were even told this, let alone told that they’d been used.

This does not contradict Pelosi’s claim that she was only told that such techniques were legal, not that they had been or certainly would be used — the crux of the GOP’s attack.

So I asked Goss’ spokesperson directly: Were he and Pelosi informed that EITs, including waterboarding, had already been used, and were they given a rough sense that Abu Zubaydah had been waterboarded more than 83 times the previous month?

Her answer: “He believes that his Op-ed makes it very clear and is not engaging beyond it at this time.” She declined repeated requests to elaborate.

Thanks to Greg for getting this (ahem) "clarification" from the old spook.

Can we please start talking about why, in September 2002, the CIA was unwilling to brief Congress (as they were legally obliged to do) that they had been torturing people for over a month? 



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