Report: Pelosi Knew of Use of Torture Despite Earlier Denials

220px-nancy_pelositorture -abu ghraibIntelligence officials leaked documents to the Washington Post and ABC News last night that sharply contradict the statements of Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has denied ever being told that torture was being used on detaineees. She previously insisted that the use of waterboarding (aka torture) was only discussed in the future tense — a dubious moral distinction. I discussed the story on this segment of Rachel Maddow’s show.

The documents purportedly show that Pelosi was briefed in September 2002 about the use of torture against specific detainees. The documents show that Pelosi was briefed at the same time as
then-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) were the first two members of Congress ever briefed on the interrogation tactics. They were briefed on Sept. 4, 2002, one week before the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — an interesting choice of timing that seemed designed to ensure that Pelosi would keep quiet about the criminal acts.

On a prior interview with Rachel Maddow, Pelosi unambiguously denied being briefed on the program:

(on camera): September 2002, you were briefed on CIA detention issues and enhanced interrogation issues. Because of those briefings, and I know you that you expressed concerns to the NSA after that October 2001 briefing, you released that publicly in 2006. You didn`t express public concerns at the time after those briefings. Does that raise a complication?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: No, no. The fact is they did not brief – first of all, we`re not allowed to talk about what happens, but I can say this. They did not brief us that these enhanced interrogations were taking place. They did not brief us that was – they were talking about an array of interrogations that they might have at their disposal.

MADDOW: Techniques in the abstract, as if they were not being used?

PELOSI: We were never told they were being used.

MADDOW: Were you told they weren`t being used?

PELOSI: Well, they just talked about them, but they – the inference to be drawn from what they told us was these are things that we think could be legal and we have a difference of opinion on that.

But they never told us that they were being used because that would be a different story altogether. And we had many disagreements with them all along the way on how they collect information in their country and what they think might be acceptable.

They have never gotten any comfort from me on any of these issues, no matter what they want to say publicly. And they know that I cannot speak specifically to the classified briefing of that kind. But I can say flat out they never told us that these enhanced interrogations were being used.

It is impossible to square these documents with those past statements. The documents would supply the long suspected link between the democrats and torture — explaining Pelosi’s steadfast refusal to allow any investigation into the war crimes.

The documents are available here. Defenders have said that the documents do not actually show that she was told about the individual interrogations, but it is clear that Pelosi was informed of an obvious program in use in my view. In the end, it does not matter. The fact that Pelosi was told of possible war crimes in the future tense does not alter her failure to act to stop the program. This was not some idle chit chat with ranking members — timed perfectly for the anniversary of 9-11.

For the full story, click here.

39 thoughts on “Report: Pelosi Knew of Use of Torture Despite Earlier Denials”

  1. Good Day. The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. Help me! There is an urgent need for sites: Risk of spreading herpes between outbreaks. I found only this – risk of spreading herpes between outbreaks. An not rarer theft is the vaginal tus, used by anal genital cats in future eyes of the risk at all, finding the firmer appropriateness and herpes allergens, herpes outbreak. Herpes outbreak, you can and will become article even, but need many with yourself in your nerve however. With respect :eek:, Kona from Guyana.

  2. Mike:
    If body language is an indicator of guilt,I’m quite sure that you all will be treated to seeing Rachel Maddow ask Pelosi if she knew what was going,if she had swallowed any harder she would have chocked.

  3. I watched Rep. Pelosi on Rachel Maddow’s show as well. I was hoping that Rachel would ask whether the question of legality was ever raised in those briefings. In any event, her comments were as incoherent as Prof. Rice’s explanations of Bush’s torture policies. That certainly explains her constant equivocation on the subject of congressional investigations into the whole mess. I have never been impressed by Rep. Pelosi’s leadership in the House (or Sen. Reid’s in the Senate, for that matter), but I am surprised that she didn’t realize that the secret briefings would eventually lose their secrecy.

    Congress is treating the issue as though it were a particularly virulent form of swine flu, and maybe it is. That is why it will take the continued passion of Jill, the reasoned persistence of Mike S., the biting sarcasm of BIL, the conservative indignation of Bron and the constant pleas of the remainder of the Turley misfits and thousands of others to literally force an accounting.

  4. Mike Spindell,

    You are a good old man, Mike. Along with the others here, I always enjoy your posts. Shucks, sometimes you are even more verbose than I am, but most always more informative.

  5. FFLEO,
    Would that that was true. Unfortunately there is no Santa Claus coming to the rescue of this old Hippie with generous herbal gifts. At this point in my life, what with my political history and what I write today, I would see any Santa Claus proffering herbal remedies with the same caution the Trojans should have viewed that big wooden horse. Neither you nor I have reached our current age, without learning to distrust the gifts of serendipity. Perhaps though I can interest my wife in vacationing in Amsterdam, to at least see if my memory rings true.

  6. “However, our arguments are necessarily nuanced and rely on a base of knowledge that may need to be taught to the uninformed before we can even lay out the base of our case.”

    Gyges,
    You are right on target with this. Doing what we need to do is hard because of the “necessarily nuanced” nature of our arguments. That is and always has been the disadvantage of those striving for a more humane society. The other side uses simplistic images, usually of the macho variety, to make their case. They offer attractive, easy answers that in their siren lure keep most people from seeing the inherent dichotomy within these easy arguments. i.e. Let’s torture to protect our freedom. Pushing a society towards a more humane nature is a long, ongoing process, only to be measured by small steps. While I see this as an unalterable truth, I nevertheless feel that those of us who care should never lay down our indignation.

    Also too, in my daily visiting of sites I’ve noticed that both Huffpost and Firedoglake:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/08/waterboarding-not-discuss_n_200087.html

    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/05/07/cia-lying-to-abc-about-torture-again-abc-reporting-it-uncritically-again/

    Have stories disputing the ABC report on what Pelosi knew.
    Now personally, with no evidence other than my instinct, I believe she was somehow drawn into complicity. I post these two links though as a cautionary tale of how we can be drawn in by propaganda under the guise of reporting. We know that almost 500 years ago Machiavelli wrote a guidebook on how a ruler can manipulate his masses. Sun Tzu predates him with his commentary on strategy and the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were quite sophisticated in their manipulation of the masses. If we can hope to ever change the direction of humanity towards real freedom and justice, we must be vigilant about our own propensity to be manipulated by the politicians, egotists and sociopaths. In this, by the way, I claim no special prowess, because in my life I’ve been fooled time and again, even though I foolishly thought I was somehow immune.

  7. My only concern is what my old hippie friend Mikey is smokin’ in that *roll* he is ‘on’…

  8. Mike,

    May I just say you’re on a roll today. I think a large part of wisdom is the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes, which is something you seem to possess in excess. Your historical perspective is always appreciated.

    The cynic in me wants to say that the ideal SP is one who’s is decried by the leadership of both parties. However, I would probably be decried (and for good reason), so that might not be the best test.

    What makes this harder to spread than ID, or the anti-vaccine movement, etc. is that those rely on over simplifications and ignorance, which plays well in the current culture. However, our arguments are necessarily nuanced and rely on a base of knowledge that may need to be taught to the uninformed before we can even lay out the base of our case.

  9. Mike:
    When you use the word tipping point, the image of a knock down comes to mind. Not the boxing type, the nautical version. When the wind is so overpowering that is it will literally lay (or knock) the boat down so hard that the top of the mast will actually be in the water.

    The winds blow fiercely when the truth gets tortured. Watching politicians duck and cover in this gale has just begun.

  10. Jill, enibob & BVM:

    Thanks for providing these stimulating links. With so many sources, outlets and discussions going on the heat is rising.

    “In short, in spite of what Republicans tell you (and therefore ABC prints), this is actually an utter damning chronology of CIA contempt for their obligations to inform Congress (particularly Democrats in Congress).” Marcy Wheeler

    Marcy Wheeler does a great job targeting the CIA. Can she stop defending Pelosi?

    “Caught dead to rights in a lie, what does Madam Speaker do? As any liar who refuses to own up to her transgression, she doubles down and lies some more.” Allahpundit at Hot Air

  11. Is anyone who has been following this really “shocked” by this disclosure? Please, this has been speculated on for years as the reason why Pelosi, Reid, et.al. were reluctant to prosecute and anxious to move on. Even the fact that Bush/Cheney manipulated it this way is no shock, but merely the continuance of a long history of legislative manipulation
    by the executive, when it comes to foreign policy. Go back to the “Cold War” and you will see the same.

    The technique is to bring certain select congress people, supposedly into the National Security loop, to be briefed by “in the know experts,” preferably with credible military and/or intelligence credentials. To run for office denotes a greater than average egotism. To be among the “few” in the know gives these egotists the warm feeling of being in the “in crowd.” Their own lack of military/intelligence and/or Foreign Policy “hands on” experience helps them believe the inside info is credible and they are now trapped in complicity.

    Part of why William Fulbright was such a beacon for those of us against the Viet Nam war was that he was too smart and too experienced to be taken in by this. RFK had been part of beginning the war and so in the Senate he was able to see through the arguments, but he was trapped in the accusations of his lusting after Johnson’s job. J. Edgar Hoover, an old buddy of LBJ has ruinous files on most politicians so he kept them in line also.

    This is nothing new and is endemic to the Washington scene.
    If ending it was as easy as just having hearings or appointing a special prosecutor let’s go for it! However, in truth it is not that easy when the entire system is corrupted by these mean little secrets and by the unlimited
    pockets of the defense establishment. I know JT has called for a Special Prosecutor and I believe that at some point one will be necessary. Let me ask in truth though how did the much lauded Mr. Fitzgerald work out? It seems to me that he actually covered up much more than he uncovered and given that performance I seriously distrust his credibility, or that of any SP hailed in a bi-partisan manner.

    To me the only way this gets dealt with is with a continuing barrage of these revelations, to the point where the clamor becomes so great and the personal political stakes so high that a tipping point will be reached and then let the hearings and prosecutions begin. The role of us interested in saving our country should be to clamor and keep on clamoring for the truth to be revealed. If we can be as effective, as those ninnies who have started a national debate on evolution v. ID and other irrelevant issues, we may have the chance to achieve redress in our lifetimes.

  12. Marcy Wheeler gives a good chronology of CIA briefings of Congress in this article. It’s a good idea to keep this account clearly in mind. However, it does not excuse any Democratic complicity in war crimes and Democractic complicity does not erase bushcheneyco war crimes.

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/05/08-7

  13. BIL,

    I see what you are saying with respect to High Crimes and Misdemeanors yada yada.

    I am still worried that the ART II Immunity should not be abridged. If “she was at the Whitehouse or not in Secession NO PROBLEM. But anything coming out of the Committees and Legislative Process. I have a problem.

    Yes, I can see a nod nod wink wink and have the talk at the Whitehouse and she says I’ll go to the Hill and doing your dirty bidding and vetting. That is conspiracy and subject to rico (maybe.)

    I just wish this was a bad dream and I am waking after a 00′ nap.

  14. AY,

    Honestly I don’t see an Art. II issue as Obama hasn’t issued a blanket pardon, only indicated that there would be no prosecution which is really not his call absent said pardon(s). Prosecution is at the discretion of the AG. I see all of this weight falling on Holder. Bush didn’t issue pardons as a tactical matter because doing so would have tipped his hand at what a bunch of evil tools he had behind him. As to any potential Art. II issues, I say that the “absolute” nature of the pardon power in re violating the Constitution is a matter ripe for the SCOTUS as it has the potential to render our entire legal system illegitimate by the very terms of the Constitution (not to mention the DoI). I think a very reasonable argument can be made that “absolute” does not mean the ability to violate the core document upon which ALL of our legal system is founded. Sure, he can pardon the USC 18 sec 2441 charges, but then you simply change tactics to charge them with treason as violating the 8th Amendment during a time of war can most certainly be characterized as aiding and abetting enemies of the United States by undermining the very foundation of the legal system. That’s how I’d start at first blush.

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