ABC's Stephanopoulos Suggests Pelosi ‘Vindicated’ in Her Charge the CIA Lies

In light of recent reports that Vice President Cheney had ordered the CIA to withhold information about a counterrorism program that was being planned during the Bush administration, on Sunday ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on both Good Morning America and on This Week suggested that the revelations may be "vindication" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or that they at least "bolster" her claims about the CIA lying to her. Stephanopoulos even seemed to be pushing Pelosi to claim "vindication" even while the Speaker’s office was reluctant to do so. Stephanopoulos, from Good Morning America: "I spoke with Speaker Pelosi's office about that, and they don't want to use the word "vindication," but, clearly, it does bolster their case that on several occasions, they were either misled or not given relevant information that the Congress was supposed to have."

During the roundtable discussion on This Week, after conservative columnist George Will brought up the danger of leaks by members of Congress, since congressional members leaked the current story, Stephanopoulos again suggested the story helps Pelosi: "And part of the reason they wrote those letters was in defense of the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi ... they said that they had been misled, and, of course, the Speaker had said the CIA has lied to us on many occasions. I think she said they lie all the time. So this is a measure of vindication, I suppose, for the Speaker, even though she doesn't want to claim it."

During the roundtable discussion, it was left to Will to point out not only that the program "remained in the planning stages," but that the law Democrats are alleging may have been broken has a loophole, suggesting that withholding information on the program may have been legal. Will:

Here's what Bob Woodward's Washington Post says about the program. It quotes a former senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying, "The program remains highly secretive." He said, "The program remained in the planning stages and never crossed the agency's threshold for reporting to the administration and congressional overseers." Furthermore, the law to which Cokie referred, 1947, establishing the CIA, says, indeed, Congress must be kept informed, unless – and there's a huge asterisk – it says, "unless, to the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources."

On the same morning’s Fox and Friends Sunday, FNC co-host Dave Briggs argued that the story does not help Pelosi: "I don't think this by any means gets Nancy Pelosi off the hook because, as I mentioned, this has nothing to do with waterboarding. We still don't know if she was accurately informed about waterboarding in 2002. These are not the same things."

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the Sunday, July 12, Good Morning America and This Week from ABC, followed by the same day’s Fox and Friends from FNC:

#From ABC’s Good Morning America:

KATE SNOW: Nancy Pelosi has come under a lot of fire for making those comments that she was misled by the CIA about waterboarding. Do these latest charges this morning vindicate her at all?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I spoke with Speaker Pelosi’s office about that, and they don’t want to use the word "vindication," but, clearly, it does bolster their case that on several occasions, they were either misled or not given relevant information that the Congress was supposed to have.

#From ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

GEORGE WILL: Here’s what Bob Woodward’s Washington Post says about the program. It quotes a former senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying, "The program remains highly secretive." He said, "The program remained in the planning stages and never crossed the agency’s threshold for reporting to the administration and congressional overseers." Furthermore, the law to which Cokie referred, 1947, establishing the CIA, says, indeed, Congress must be kept informed, unless – and there’s a huge asterisk – it says, "unless, to the extent consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources."

...

BOB WOODRUFF: I also think you’re exactly right, Sam, that candidate Obama has met President Obama, and he says I don’t want wide disclosure of our secrets because we need them.

GEORGE WILL: And here’s why. When someone went to Panetta in the CIA and told him about this, and Panetta went to the congressional committee, what then happened? It leaked.

BOB WOODWARD: Actually, they wrote letters publicly, and the letters certainly leaked.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And part of the reason they wrote those letters was in defense of the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who had said-

SAM DONALDSON: Do you know what the program is we’re talking about? I don’t.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No, not what the program is, they said that they had been misled, and, of course, the Speaker had said the CIA has lied to us on many occasions. I think she said they lie all the time. So this is a measure of vindication, I suppose, for the Speaker, even though she doesn’t want to claim it.

#From FNC’s Fox and Friends Sunday:

DAVE BRIGGS: But we start this morning with the top story coming out of this whole mess with, the CIA. The latest chapter is this: Dick Cheney reportedly told the CIA to withhold information from Congress, to withhold a specific secret counterterrorism program and not tell Congress. We do not know what this counterterrorism program was. We do know it was not in regard to waterboarding. It was not in regard to domestic spying, either.

CLAYTON MORRIS: Well, we also know that this might not have had anything to do with the Pelosi back and forth. Does this vindicate Nancy Pelosi and what she was saying the CIA lied to Congress by wthholding information? Of course, Leon Panetta coming out, the head of the CIA, saying that didn’t happen, we didn’t withhold anything. The question, though, of how completely the CIA informed Congress of all of this is now unfolding, and what Dick Cheney told to those members. Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, said, look, he said, "One of the points I had in every one of the briefings was to make sure [that Congress] understood the scope of our activity, ‘They’ve got to know that this is bigger than a bread box.’"

Now, he was addressing other concerns, specifically about Nancy Pelosi. But he was also, we are understanding from an official this morning who worked with Michael Hayden – he hasn’t addressed this particular point just yet. This other official has come out and said that Vice President Dick Cheney never came to them and said don’t tell us anything, don’t withhold anything, nothing like that.

BRIGGS: They had no restrictions from the Vice President.

AINSLEY EARHARDT: And the directors – we do need to mention – the directors were saying they did not hold a congressional hearing because this was not yet developed. And if it had been developed, then that’s when they would have hold a hearing.

MORRIS: Right, the program itself. This was perhaps an experimental program, and, to Dave’s point, we still don’t know which program this is.

BRIGGS: Couple of things, yeah, Leon Panetta cancelled this program June 23, but I don’t think this by any means gets Nancy Pelosi off the hook because, as I mentioned, this has nothing to do with waterboarding. We still don’t know if she was accurately informed about waterboarding in 2002. These are not the same things-

MORRIS: It’s not related at all, right.

BRIGGS: -so she may have been told about waterboarding, in fact, in these briefings.

MORRIS: Well, to be fair, in a way of defending her, we still frankly don’t know. I mean, it could have been – we simply don’t know anything about what program this is that the Vice President is alleged to now have not told Congress about, and this is an important point because the gang of eight – those leaders in the intelligence community in Congress – need to be informed of everything. So if there was information withheld, Leon Panetta coming out and saying, "Look, as soon as I found out about this, I canceled the program," and he held a special session of Congress where he met with different congressional leaders telling them I just ended this yesterday.

...

EARHARDT: It’s just very preliminary at this point, and it hadn’t been developed. So do they have to, I mean, the question is, do they have to go to the gang of eight every time?

MORRIS: Well, we don’t know. I mean, yeah, that’s the question.