Florida's Graham Backs Pelosi On CIA Briefings

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused the CIA of misleading her in 2002 about its use of waterboarding during the Bush administration.

Now her fellow Democrat, former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, is also disputing the CIA's version of the briefings that he received at the time. Graham was then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, while Pelosi was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

How Many Briefings?

Graham is known as a meticulous note-taker and has maintained a daily log that fills hundreds of spiral notebooks, which now reside at the University of Florida Library of Florida History.

"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.

'No Discussion Of Waterboarding'

The Sept. 27, 2002, briefing occurred about three weeks after the briefing in which the CIA says it told Pelosi about the use of waterboarding, a technique also described as simulated drowning. Graham, like Pelosi, says waterboarding was not mentioned during his briefing.

"There was no discussion of waterboarding, other excessive techniques or that they had applied these against any particular detainees," he says.

Pelosi has charged that she was misled by the CIA. Graham puts it another way.

"Nothing that I can recall being said surprised me or has subsequently proven to be incorrect," he says. "It was a matter of omission, not commission."

Graham says he is not surprised at the CIA's claims, noting that within a week of its Sept. 27 briefing, the agency presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee its National Intelligence Estimate of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was later shown to be flawed.

"I'm not impressed with the credibility of the CIA as it was being led in 2002," Graham says. "I think it had become an agency that instead of following the admonition to speak truth to power, it was trying to speak what it thought power wanted to hear."

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