You’d think after Porter Goss once again failed to refute Nancy Pelosi’s central assertion, "Fact Check" organizations would get the hint.

But no–they’re still out there refuting themselves!!

Here are the details that FactCheck.Org uses to claim that,

So we’re left with Democrats offering one (not always entirely accurate) story and the CIA and some Republicans offering a different (and, again, not always entirely accurate) story.

Pelosi, February 25:

Pelosi: We were never told they were being used.

Maddow: You were told they weren’t being used?

Pelosi: Well, they just talked about them, but — the inference to be drawn from what they told us was that these are things that we think could be legal. And we have a difference of opinion on that. But they never told us that they were being be used, because that would be a different story altogether. … And they know that I cannot speak specifically to the classified briefing of that kind. But I can say flat out, they never told us that these enhancement interrogations were being used.

Pelosi, April 23:

Pelosi (April 23): At that or any other briefing, and that was the only briefing that I was briefed on in that regard, we were not I repeat, we were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used.

Pelosi, May 14:

The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed.

Porter Goss, April 25:

Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed;

Given that both the Democratic and Republican Member of Congress at that September 4, 2002 briefing describe a briefing in which "they" (the CIA) spoke to "us" or "we" (the members present for that briefing) of waterboarding in a hypothetical sense, you’d think people would finally cop on that Pelosi’s point all along has been that the CIA came to Congress, claimed to brief them, but then left out the all-important detail that the CIA had already been using torture for over a month. You’d think that a "fact check" organization would then note the consistency between Pelosi’s and Goss’ story, note the abundance of errors in the CIA’s briefing, and realize that the CIA was probably wrong and all the journalists and fact check organizations covering this for the past month have been played like out-of-tune fiddles. 

But no. That’s not what Joe Miller did. Instead, he ignored the tense in Goss’ language so he could claim he refuted Pelosi. He ignored additional errors in the CIA’s own record, particularly the ones pertaining to Republicans. Decided to "take" we "to mean" Pelosi and the Democrats rather than Goss and Pelosi. Took Crazy Pete Hoekstra’s statements as relevant in the least, even though he wasn’t at the briefing in question. And then he decided, after admitting that, "Pelosi has never wavered from her assertion that at her Sept. 2002 briefing, the CIA presented its interrogation program as a theoretical possibility and not as a fait accompli," that Pelosi is wrong because Miller has decided Pelosi should be speaking about whether she ever knew about waterboarding and not about whether the CIA fulfilled their legally required obligation to inform Congress before they start a torture or other covert op program. 

Voila! Because Republicans decided to claim Pelosi was saying something (that she had never learned of waterboarding) that she was not saying, Joe Miller decides to suggest that Pelosi (whom he admits has never wavered from the point she was trying to make) was not accurate.

Let me help you out here, Joe. Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi have a dispute. That dispute is over whether she should have just assumed that if the CIA talks prospectively about something, she should assume that meant they were going to do it. Goss has pointedly refused to weigh in on whether he thinks the CIA should inform Congress after they’ve tortured (or god forbid, before, like the law usually requires) that they’ve done so; he equally refused to weigh in about whether he’s bothered that CIA apparently didn’t do so in that briefing on September 4, 2002. So Goss and Pelosi have a dispute, but it’s not the one FactCheck makes it out to be.

As to the other Republicans? They weren’t in the fucking briefing, so who cares what they say? Anything they’d be saying would simply be irrelevant at best or grandstanding at worst. But FactCheck willingly makes itself the tool of such irrelevant grandstanding, all so it can proclaim a verdict that is not, in fact, the dispute at issue between the people actually in the briefing.



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