Published May 20, 2009
WASHINGTON -- New questions surfaced Wednesday about the accuracy of a CIA document meant to settle who in Congress knew about severe interrogation methods approved by the Bush administration.
Three new errors appeared to emerge in the CIA's matrix of 40 congressional briefings on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. Those techniques include waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, which President Obama has called torture.
The CIA acknowledged one of the errors but continued to stand by its version of events in the other two cases.
The briefing chart, widely leaked to the news media two weeks ago, was compiled by the CIA at the request of members of Congress after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed in April that the CIA failed to tell her at a September 2002 briefing that waterboarding had been used against a prisoner.
That briefing occurred within weeks of the waterboarding of terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah. He was subjected to the procedure at least 83 times.
Pelosi has been a frequent target of criticism from Republicans who are eager to argue that Democrats knew about waterboarding and did little to stop it.
The CIA chart states that a Senate staffer, Chris Mellon, attended a briefing on July 15, 2004. However, Mellon told The Associated Press that he left the Senate in April 2004 and did not attend the briefing.
On Wednesday, CIA spokesman George Little said the CIA has reviewed its record and agrees that Mellon was erroneously listed as having attended the 2004 briefing.
"The briefing chart was prepared in response to requests from Congress," Little said. "The agency compiled it in good faith after reviewing our records from 2002 to 2009. We didn't release it publicly, nor have we hyped it, and we have been candid in describing it."
The CIA matrix also reported that Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., then the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was briefed on Feb. 4, 2003. But it notes that Rockefeller received a "later individual briefing."
Rockefeller spokeswoman Jamie Smith said Wednesday that the senator was not briefed on the CIA interrogation program until Sept. 4, 2003.
Little said that "on the Rockefeller briefing, the chart plainly indicates that he wasn't there and was to be briefed individually later. That's in fact what our records show. The chart makes no claim as to if or when that briefing occurred."
The CIA chart also shows former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Porter Goss attended a March 8, 2005, briefing as a member of Congress. However, Goss was at that time the director of the CIA. He took that job in November 2004.
"On the March 8, 2005, briefing, we were true to the records," Little said. "Although Mr. Goss was CIA director at that time, the underlying records list him as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. There's a record of an earlier briefing that lists Rep. (Pete) Hoekstra as chairman."
On Tuesday, House Appropriations Chairman Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, said that one of his committee staff members was erroneously listed as attending a briefing in September 2006. The CIA stands by its record on that count.
Obey's spokeswoman, Kirstin Brost, said the CIA was wrong.
"Our records are clear. Our records are detailed. They are mistaken," she said.
The CIA cobbled together the chart from notes, memo and recollections because transcripts of the meetings were not kept. It was sent to Capitol Hill on May 6.
"In the end, you and the committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened," Panetta wrote.