Several top Democrats say the CIA is trying to shift blame away from itself for torture techniques it used on detainees in the war on terror by releasing documents about congressional briefings on waterboarding, Politico reports.
The release of the 10-page document, which was prepared after an April 20 request by Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., shows the CIA briefed members of Congress along the way, which has put Democratic lawmakers on the defensive.Sen. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: Speaker of the House Pelosi continued to stick by her assertion that she was never briefed on harsh interrogation techniques by the Bush administration. “The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used,” her spokesman Brendan Daly says of the briefings.Dick Durbin, D-Ill.: Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, finds it “interesting” that the document detailing briefings was released as “some of the groups that have been responsible for these interrogation techniques were taking the most criticism.”Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: Feinstein believes the timing of the documents’ release showed the CIA wanted to deflect blame away from itself. Asked whether the CIA was seeking political cover by releasing the documents, the Intelligence Committee Chairwoman said: “Sure it is.”Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.: “I think there is so much embarrassment in some quarters [of the CIA] that people are going to try to shift some of the responsibility to others — that’s what I think.” Levin, the former chairman of the senate intelligence committee reportedly was briefed on interrogation techniques multiple times between 2006 and 2007.Russ Feingold, D-Wis.: Feingold, an Intelligence Committee member, says the 10-page CIA document released late last week “appears to come from the executive branch itself. I think it’s unbelievable.” Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V.: Rockefeller states he was not told critical information that would have cast significant doubt on the program’s legality and effectiveness and launched a full-scale effort to investigate the program in 2005.
Feinstein says responsibility for the interrogation techniques used by the CIA lie with the CIA.
“Look, the CIA has the responsibility — there’s no question about that,” Feinstein says. “Because you brief or notify doesn’t mean there’s any less responsibility of the CIA, any less the responsibility of the individual who participates in this — in my opinion.”
CIA officials, for their part, insist the release of the documents wasn’t intentional and haven’t taken responsibility for publicly releasing them.
The agency “understands the importance of a strong relationship with the Congress, which in our democracy, conducts oversight of secret intelligence activities,” CIA spokesman George Little says about the Democrats’ charges.
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