It’s the end of the political fundraising quarter so the fundraising letters and emails have been arriving with some regularity. One, from 8th district congressman Patrick Murphy, caught my eye. It stated:
Among the most startling of these recent attacks is the crass attempt to tie me to the scandal surrounding the CIA’s Congressional briefings on torture.
That seemed odd since Murphy only took office in January 2007. However, I found an article in a Bucks County paper that did just that:
Eighth District Congressman Patrick Murphy has attended two CIA briefings at the center of a firestorm between the agency and the Speaker of the House, who said she was lied to about waterboarding.
An unclassified chart released by the CIA describes 40 briefings for lawmakers over a period of several years on enhanced interrogation techniques. Murphy, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is listed among lawmakers in attendance on Jan. 16, 2008. The topics included “Videotape Desctruction” and “Discussion of EITs, including waterboarding.”
MediaMatters’ Jamison Foser has debunked the claim (“’Democrats knew about torture’ stories are getting dumber by the minute” 5/20/2009):
The CIA briefing “at the center of a firestorm” between the CIA and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi occurred in 2002. That’s a full six years before the meetings the Intelligencer’s crack investigative unit says Patrick Murphy attending. The difference is rather significant, since the whole controversy is about whether Members of Congress knew about the Bush administration’s torture in real time.
Since at least late 2007 Murphy has been working to ensure that all U.S. government agencies and personnel followed the Army Field Manual on torture (Murphy press release 11/15/2007) In March, 2008 he voted in favor of a bill to override a Bush veto requiring the CIA to obey the Army Field Manual ban on prisoner torture.
The mention of committee meetings discussing “Videotape Destruction” likely deal with Sec. 10 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, which requires videotaping or otherwise electronically recording strategic intelligence interrogations.
Murphy spoke to the House and said, in part, concerning amendment No. 32 printed in House Report 110-666, on May 22, 2008 (Congressional Record, p. H4796):
Madam Chairman, as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division, I saw American heroes at their finest, gaining vital intelligence the right way. We have all seen images of what happens when young soldiers are left without clear leadership at the top. Simply put, the treatment of detainees is a strategic imperative to every serv ice member wearing the uniform and every American we took an oath to support and protect.
In the first Gulf War, over 100,000 Iraqi soldiers surrendered to American forces because they knew that they would be treated humanely by the American forces. Thousands who did not hide behind street corners with RPGs or IEDs.
The treatment of detainees is what set America apart as a global leader, and it is how we begin to restore the reputation squandered by President Bush and the tragedy of Abu Ghraib.
Madam Chairman, there is nobody in this chamber who supports the vigorous interrogation of suspected terrorists more than me, but it must be done the way that reflects the greatness of America and in a way that protects our fighting men and women. Madam Chairman, this amendment helps do just that.
One of my heroes, General Colin Powell, once said: The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.
Will this amendment fix all our problems? Of course not. But it certainly is a start. I urge my colleagues to vote for the gentleman's amendment.
And later (p. H4797)
Madam Chairman, I have great respect for the gentleman from California, and that he is also a paratrooper. But, Madam Chairman, I would suggest that those were my same concerns. In that letter we address those concerns that the Under Secretary said; that in forward operating bases in the environment, there is no mandate in this bill that would require them to videotape the interrogations. It is only at the strategic level in theater, only where they go.
In my case in al Rasheed, Baghdad in 2002, 2004, Madam Chairman, we would interrogate them at a forward operating base, then we would bring them up to the Baghdad airport, then they would go to somewhere else. It would only be at that higher level, not at the forward operating base. And we put that language in this bill to address those exact concerns.
So although I respect greatly the service and the commitment of the gentleman from California and his concerns, those concerns were addressed in this bill. And that is why I support our amendment.
This doesn’t sound to me like someone who was in favor of enhanced interrogation techniques, and the committee discussion on videotaping, if it is anything like Murphy’s comments in the Congressional Record, were on the side of accountability.