Panetta: It’s Up To Congress To Figure Out Whether Our Records Are Accurate

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CIA director Leon Panetta has just sent the following message to staffers in response to Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the agency misled her over torture:

Message from the Director: Turning Down the Volume

There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after I’m gone. But the political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress.

Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.

My advice–indeed, my direction–to you is straightforward: ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission. We have too much work to do to be distracted from our job of protecting this country.

We are an Agency of high integrity, professionalism, and dedication. Our task is to tell it like it is–even if that’s not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it. (our itals)

As Greg Sargent notes, this is far short of an unequivocal guarantee that the briefings document released last week is accurate. Instead, it appears to restate Panetta’s earlier admission that the he can’t vouch for the document’s accuracy. Or put more directly, it’s up to Congress to figure out whether our records are accurate or not.

Politico and The Hill, however, are more easily taken in.

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