Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
Retired Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) famously carries a spiral notebook
everywhere he goes. He meticulously records most moments of his day, including how much he weighs, what he wears, meetings he attends and a to-do list at the end of the day. The former senator has filled more than 4,000 spiral journals, one of which could get House Speaker Nancy Pelosi off the hook she's been hanging from since she accused the CIA of lying to Congress last Thursday.
During an interview on C-SPAN's Washington Journal
this morning, Graham discussed his experience with the CIA while he was the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002, the same period that Nancy Pelosi chaired the House Intelligence Committee.
"I did not consider myself to be misled," Graham said, but he added that the single CIA briefing he attended on detainee issues was "relatively routine" and included "no discussion of waterboarding or any other techniques."
Graham said he did not know what Nancy Pelosi was told apart from their briefings, but said, "I can just speak about my own experience, I did not hear of waterboarding until I left the Senate." Graham retired in 2004.
Graham explained during the interview today that he recently asked the CIA for a list of briefings the Agency believes he attended on treatment of detainees by American forces. "Allegations were made that all of the leadership of the Intelligence Committees had been fully briefed on this. I knew that was not the case for me."
The CIA gave him four dates - two in April and two in September of 2002. "I have a habit of carrying with me a spiral notebook such as this (holding up his notepad). I went back to my notebooks for those dates and found that on three of the four dates, there was no briefing held. I presented that information to the CIA and they concurred that their records were in error."
As a rule, Graham did not take notes on the content of classified briefings in his notebooks. He recorded only that a briefing did or did not take place.
Graham said he believes the CIA has a faulty system for keeping records and that CIA records are unreliable.
In a fascinating coincidence, the St. Petersburg Times
ran a story in 2003 about Graham's notebooks featuring several excerpts from the real McCoys.
In his entry from September 17, 2002, between notes that he, "Applied scalp medication," and, "Walked to HSOB" (his office building), Graham wrote a note to himself to talk to his staffer on the Intelligence Committee, saying he had "not received CIA answers to Iraq Qs."
Graham recorded several meetings throughout the day on intelligence matters, including a closed-door hearing with then-CIA director George Tenet. At the end of the day, Graham indicates he never got the information he was looking for at the beginning of the day, reminding himself to ask his staffer, "E-mail w request for information re Iraq."