Almost every briefing described in the document — including the September 2002 Pelosi briefing that’s directly at issue — refers to “EITs,” or enhanced interrogation techniques, as a subject that was discussed. But according to a former intelligence professional who has participated in such briefings, that term wasn’t used until at least 2006* (see correction below).That’s not just an issue of semantics. The former intel professional said that by using the term in the recently compiled document, the CIA was being “disingenuous,” trying to make it appear that the use of such techniques was part of a “formal and mechanical program.” In fact, said the former intel pro, it wasn’t until 2006* (see correction below) that — amid growing concerns about the program among some in the Bush administration — the EIT program was formalized, and the “enhanced interrogation techniques” were properly defined and given a name.
The former intel professional, no partisan defender of Democrats, faulted Nancy Pelosi for not pressing harder in the briefing to determine exactly which techniques had and hadn’t been used. “The extent to which members ask questions should drive what’s going on,” said the former intel pro. “It’s your job to ask.”
Still, the impression created by the CIA, and by Republicans looking to use the document to damage Pelosi, is that as early as 2002 there was a universally agreed upon definition of enhanced interrogation techniques (the document, remember, doesn’t say that waterboarding was mentioned during the Pelosi briefing). In reality, it appears, the term, and the techniques it encompassed, occupied a far murkier realm.
*Correction: A Nexis search which we should have done earlier shows that the term “enhanced interrogation techniques” was used by CIA from June 2004 onwards. That month, the Associated Press reported:
The CIA has suspended use of some White House-approved aggressive interrogation tactics employed to extract information from reluctant al-Qaida prisoners, The Washington Post said.
Citing unnamed intelligence officials, the newspaper reported in Sunday’s editions that what the CIA calls “enhanced interrogation techniques” were put on hold pending a review by Justice Department and other lawyers.
So the use of the term does indeed appear to have coincided with the emergence of widespread concern about the use of such techniques, and it doesn’t seem to have been in use when Pelosi was briefed in September 2002. But clearly the term was in use two years earlier than we originally said.