Pelosi Feigns Ignorance of Torture

Nancy Pelosi said today:

The Bush administration did not inform Congress that it had waterboarded detainees in classified briefings, after the agency had already done so…

Pelosi told reporters that the administration officials only told her and those in a classified briefing in the fall of 2002 that they believed they had the legal authority to do so, based on Office of Legal Counsel memos which have recently been released by the Obama administration.

“In that or any other briefing…we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used,” said Pelosi. “What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel…opinions that they could be used, but not that they would.”

However, that is likely untrue.

As noted by the above-linked article at Huffington Post:

Her assertion contradicts a recently released Senate committee report that cited CIA records to claim that senior members of Congress in both parties were briefed on the waterboarding, which had already been done to detainee Abu Zubaydah.

Moreover, the Washington Post wrote in 2007:

Four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

“The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough,” said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange…

The CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge. With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi…

“Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing,” said Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. “And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement.”…

Abu Zubaida, the first of the “high-value” detainees in CIA custody, was subjected to harsh interrogation methods beginning in spring 2002 after he refused to cooperate with questioners, the officials said. CIA briefers gave the four intelligence committee members limited information about Abu Zubaida’s detention in spring 2002, but offered a more detailed account of its interrogation practices in September of that year, said officials with direct knowledge of the briefings.

The CIA provided another briefing the following month, and then about 28 additional briefings over five years, said three U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge of the meetings. During these sessions, the agency provided information about the techniques it was using as well as the information it collected.

Given these facts, how plausible is Pelosi’s claimed ignorance?

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  • You are on a roll! Great job linking these lies and crimes.

  • RBM

    I’ve been thinking that Obama is making a really big mistake going after this. Better to say that the US no longer condones the behavior and move on. This issue will define his Presidency, create huge partisan divides both in congress and the general public and make moving his social agenda much harder than it needs to be. I say this, but in the back of my mind it keeps knocking around that maybe Obama wants to create a physical confrontation with his opponents now that he has the levers of power? Payback for Clinton? Manufacturing another crisis to take advantage of? Who knows.

  • The bottom line, Torture is a war crime and all those who originate or cooperate with the procedure are guilty of a war crime. It’s downright amusing to me to watch the news this week and see this torture stuff as new news. As a retired military man I have kept my focus on the goings on because this is so wrong and cannot be swept under the rug. Anybody who wanted to know and followed this knows they had meeting in the white house to discuss methods to be used on specific persons. The senior members of the Intelligence Committee were briefed early on and under the threat of being prosecuted for revealing the information.Bottom line , investigate with a special prosecutor and charge and convict all who participated.

  • Pelosi is lying.

  • Thanks for the info.Great blog.. keep up the great analysis.

  • I’m amazed this woman sat through dozens of briefings over the course of seven years yet claims she didn’t know about waterboarding. She’s just playing ring around the Pelosi.