Sen. Wyden: Don’t let any one fool you that the Bush administration kept Congress in the loop on torture

Another U.S. Senator is challenging the CIA’s claims that members of Congress were properly briefed on Bush administration torture practices and policies.  Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was  a member on the Senate Intelligence Committee throughout the Bush years and has now added his voice to the growing chorus of those like Nancy Pelosi who say they were not properly briefed.  Wyden claims that his briefing did not come until 2006 — and was too little, too late.  MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Wyden and waves a copy of the CIA briefing list at him.  Wyden dismisses it and  pivots to the larger question — the illegal actions of the Bush administration in conducting a torture program in direct contravention of U.S. law and treaties. http://www.loadedorygun.net/diary/1797/wyden-kept-in-the-dark-on-torture-calls-cheneys-bluff

Note how easily and dismissively Wyden moves away from the Pelosi question, for whatever reason, and zeroes in on what for him is a more central question: why aren’t we talking about the way in which the Bush administration consistently failed to inform properly? He claims he was “kept in the dark” until 2006, linking the Bush administration’s failures to the 1947 National Security Act, which he refers to a couple of times. That’s a nice summary link which is then applied to an analysis of the NSA wiretapping scandal–another prime example of the administration totally holding out on Congress. But it has this key section:

Under current statute, the President is to ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept “fully and currently informed” of U.S. intelligence activities, including any “significant anticipated intelligence activity.” According to legislative history, the term “fully and currently informed,” is intended to mean that complete and timely notice of actions and policies is provided, and that the committees will be informed of intelligence activities in such detail as the committees may require.Further, the Senate in report language said it expected the executive branch not to limit itself to providing full and complete information upon request from the committees, but to affirmatively keep the committees fully and currently informed.

It’s on this basis which Wyden is making his complaint. Mitchell waves a copy of the CIA’s briefing schedule and claims it shows a series of proper briefings on torture procedures, but Wyden says they were still not properly informed. For an administration which was already torturing before they had whipped up a legal “justification” for it, and were using it to extract false confessions to once again “justify” a new war against Iraq, I’m afraid it’s all beside the point compared to that.

But it’s good to see Wyden shifting the focus back to the Bush administration…and that is in fact where the discussion lies, not the CIA or intel units themselves. The way Congress was briefed was led from the top, principally Dick Cheney. Heck, if he was telling them how to torture to get info the intel agencies already told him didn’t exist, why wouldn’t he tell the CIA to lie about what they were doing to Congress?

Wyden also gets some digs in on Cheney himself, saying he (Wyden) is pretty confused about why the former VP wants all those documents released, because Wyden seemed confident there wasn’t going to be anything to exonerate him. So he joined Cheney in challenging to have all of the material declassified, including a letter of complaint regarding intel darkness along with two other Senators.

Wyden goes on to say he really thinks a special commission of some kind is necessary to look into all this, and I think as a result of the Pelosi nonsense there is a definite Briar Patch Syndrome working here–Wyden was almost smirking when talking about declassifying the documents and calling for more investigation.

Note how Wyden didn’t defend Pelosi in the least, except by way of saying the CIA lied to them all the time, or at least omitted and delayed. If she has to go, politically speaking, with the reward being some kind of toothful investigation, is it worth it? Or–gasp–would it simply be the right thing to do?

The entire transcript can be found here:   http://www6.lexisnexis.com/publisher/EndUser?Action=UserDisplayFullDocument&orgId=574&topicId=100007424&docId=l:972871949&start=39

Video is posted at  http://www.loadedorygun.net/diary/1797/wyden-kept-in-the-dark-on-torture-calls-cheneys-bluff

Let”s turn our searchlight back on the doings of the Bush administration — and particularly those like  Cheney who had their hands on the levers of power.  If  Cheney was micro-managing the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah it is also likely that he was making sure the CIA briefings of members of Congress were being conducted his way, which is to say, full of lies, half-truths and mis-direction.

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