Burying The Bob Graham Lede

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on May 16, 2009

090426_pelosi_ap_297In its coverage of What Nancy Pelosi Knew And When She Knew It, the New York Times offers us the following passage:

Bob Graham, a former Democratic senator from Florida, who as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee underwent a briefing similar to Ms. Pelosi’s about three weeks after hers, sides with the speaker. He said he recalled a “bland” session.

“I do not have any recollection that day of there being a discussion of something that would have been as neon as waterboarding or other torture techniques,” Mr. Graham said.

He said his confidence in the C.I.A.’s account of the briefings had also been shaken by what he said was an incorrect assertion by the agency that he had been briefed on four dates. Mr. Graham, who famously keeps a detailed record of his daily activities, checked and determined that the agency was wrong about three dates and that he had attended only one session before leaving the Intelligence Committee.

“This is just a small chapter of a long, long book of C.I.A. inaccuracies, particularly in the early part of this decade,” he said.

(Emphasis mine.) How on Earth is Bob Graham able to speak with any authority on what kind of briefing Pelosi got if he didn’t attend the same briefing that she did? Graham may have found his own briefings inaccurate, but that doesn’t mean that Pelosi’s briefing was. Why the Times even chose to highlight his briefing is beyond me, given that it wasn’t the same one as the Speaker’s.

The mystery over why the Times decided to give Graham’s account any prominence is increased with the following passage:

But Mr. Graham was not present for the briefing with Ms. Pelosi. The only other lawmaker present, Porter J. Goss, then a Republican congressman from Florida who was the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and later became the C.I.A. director, has contradicted her account. He said he and Ms. Pelosi were told that the agency intended to use the harsh methods.

(Emphasis mine.) So again, why highlight Graham’s statements when he wasn’t there? Why not highlight Goss’s statements? He was and is in a perfect position to tell us what Pelosi knew and when she knew it.

It is clear that Pelosi knew that waterboarding was going on. Goss was a contemporary witness, his account is backed up by that of Director Panetta–a Democrat–and the Obama White House is keeping quiet about this entire episode because it knows that it has nothing with which it can exonerate the Speaker. The New York Times should stop giving space to people like Bob Graham, who have no knowledge whatsoever of the facts surrounding Pelosi’s briefing. Graham is just on a mission to distract people from Pelosi’s political problems, and when you get right down to it, he has about as much intelligent commentary to offer concerning the specific briefing that Pelosi got as does a yak in inner Mongolia.

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