Yesterday, I wrote that it remained unclear whether Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), one of just three members of Congress besides Nancy Pelosi who received a CIA briefing on interrogation techniques in the fall of 2002, had been informed that waterboarding was being used on detainees.
Shelby's office now says he was in fact told that waterboarding was being used. This directly contradicts the recollection of former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who was present in the same briefing as Shelby.
Shelby's office released a statement yesterday (see below) indicating Shelby was informed of the "existence of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" (emphasis added) and was told "how these techniques were consistent with the law[.]" When asked whether Shelby was informed that waterboarding was actually being used, a spokesman replied that "waterboarding was one of the EITs the CIA briefed Sen. Shelby on."
Today, his office released an additional statement clarifying the Senator's recollection (the first paragraph is identical to yesterday's statement. The second paragraph is new):
As Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2002, Senator Shelby was briefed by the CIA on the Agency's interrogation program and the existence of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs). To his recollection, not only did the CIA briefers provide what was purported to be a full account of the techniques, they also described the need for these techniques and the value of the information being obtained from terrorists during questioning. The Senate briefing also included an explanation of how these techniques were consistent with the law and with the national security interests of the U.S. To his recollection, while there was a great deal of discussion, there were no objections raised during the Senate briefing he attended.
To Senator Shelby's recollection of the Senate briefing, waterboarding was one the EITs the CIA said it had used. As he also recalls, the CIA described the valuable intelligence it obtained using EITs, including waterboarding. [emphasis added]
So there you have it. This is significant for two reasons. First, former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) remembers the briefing with Shelby much differently, maintaining that he does not "have any recollection of being briefed on waterboarding or other forms of extraordinary interrogation techniques, or Abu Zubaydah being subjected to them."
Second, a CIA document released last week characterizes the briefing with Graham and Shelby in exactly the same language as it characterizes the briefing with Pelosi:
Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of the particular EITs that had been employed. [emphasis added]
At the time the CIA gave these briefings, waterboarding had been used on Abu Zubaydah 83 times.
Former Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), who was present at Pelosi's briefing, argued in a Washington Post op-ed last month that the briefings were very clear about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.
So for now, Graham and Pelosi maintain they did not know waterboarding was being used, while Goss and Shelby say they did know.