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. Some of the original signatories of PNAC’s Statement of Principles are:
    Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Steve Forbes,Donald Kagan, Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Vin Weber and Donald Rumsfeld. Later signaories include Ken Adelman, Richard Armitage, Fran Gaffney, William Kristol, Rich Lowry, Gen. Barry McCaffrey (ret.), Ed Meese, Richard Perle, Norman Podhoretz, Randy Schenemann (McCain adviser) and Sen. Charles Schumer.

    Here’s a link to their Statement of Principles.
    This group has officially re-organized and changed their brand name (ala Blackwater) to the Foreign Policy Initiative or F.P.I.. Same group, new name.

    This group is a serious danger to America and was brought into international policy discussions in the previous Administration by Dick Cheney. Do a Google search for “PNAC” and new Pearl Harbor and you may be surprised to read that PNAC longed for what they decribed as a “new Pearl Harbor” incident in America to terrify the people and allow them to enact their policies unfettered. These discussions happened well before 9/11. I’m not a conspiracy nut by any means but as I stated earlier this group is dangerous. Any investigations into alleged criminal acts by the Buash Administration should shine a harsh light on this group.

  2. BIL,

    Yes and thank you. You sir are trained. How do we get over the ARTII immunity? If that goes how far down the shitter does it go? Will they end up like Pulfrey? The DC Madam? who committed suicide after she was convicted? There is an awful lot of Suicides going on where people maybe able to expose others peoples involvement or embarrassment.

  3. AY,

    They are, quite literally, American Fascists and the driving force behind the invasion of Iraq. Dick Cheney is a charter member. Traitors to a one. They are ostensibly a “conservative think tank” with strong ties to AEI and AIPAC. When people say the “Neocons” they mean PNAC and AEI.

    Just Google PNAC and read some of the results if you want your head to spin ala Linda Blair. If you are the man of conscience you seem to be, it’ll piss you off to no end as well.

  4. Here are some relevant passages of our law:

    “1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
    2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
    3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”

  5. Damn it Jill,

    You want it and I want it. We all want a piece of Cheney. But how do you get over the ArtII stumbling block.

    I did want to say, You want it and I want it and we all want DicksHead. I thought better and don’t want to give nayone the wrong impression.

  6. A.Y.,

    If you read the war crimes law, there is no immunity granted to anyone, this includes, memebers of Congress. In fact, our law clearly states that anyone who knows of a war crime should report it and refuse participation. They have an affirmative duty to report. They have an affirmative duty to refuse to follow that course of action. It’s not open to debate. It’s the law.

  7. I think RICO is a fair use here. There is multiple documentation of the fact that Cheney wanted to go after Iraq from day one of his administration. The govt. did, and my opinion still is, acting like a syndicate. As citizens, we cannot remain passive in the face of the enormity of these crimes. Right now, we are told to wait for Godot. Meanwhile our democracy crumbles.

  8. The collusion that we are now finding out about is certainly apparent. Pandora’s box is opening. War crimes are just the beginning, I’m afraid. Collusion to prevent the investigation of 9/11 seems to be at the core of the issue. Look at the evidence adding up over time.

  9. BIL,

    I will bite (should have said that on Stormy) but what is PNAC?

  10. A Patriot and Jill,

    Think, how do you get over the Immunity that is granted to a Congressperson? This is troubling for me. If you strip away this, what else falls by the wayside?

    Attorney Client Privileged? Priest Penitent? Doctor Patient?

    How do you get over than hump? And still have the Constitution respected?

  11. “It seems that every alleged crime commited by the Bush Administration can be traced back in some way to their desire to invade Iraq.”

    It’s called PNAC.

  12. Agreed Jill. I think any prospective independent prosecutor should seriously consider using the RICO Act against the previous Administration. There was clear collusion in devising the torture program, which in itself is looking more like it was implemented to to obtain false confessions linking Iraq to al Queda. It also gave them quite a few “viable” excuses to raise the threat level whenever it suited tham politically. It seems that every alleged crime commited by the Bush Administration can be traced back in some way to their desire to invade Iraq.

  13. A Patriot,

    I have no doubt that all kinds of threats and blackmail is going on as we write. That’s why I’m very glad there are people willing to leak war crimes documents. I hope they leak more. I don’t want anyone who participated in the torture and murder of other human beings in my govt. I hope people will come forward saying they were blackmailed and threatened. It’s past time they did. Those are crimes also, as you point out, and those also should be investigated. This country is run by a syndicate with everything that implies.

  14. Each of the Democrats who were advised of the previous regimes illegal crimes were and are complicit in those crimes. Does anyone truly believe Sen. Rockefeller, Pelosi, et al wanted to look ahead and NOT investigate and prosecute any illegal activities? The Dems wanted to try and cover up their complicity and their having been “co-opted” by the bush regime.

    There is clearly NOT a candidate for the “Profiles in Courage” by any of the Dems who were briefed about NSA wiretapping, Gitmo shenanigans, torture, etc.

    Professor Turley, Thanks for your many media appearances and your desire to call a spade a spade, or in this case, a crime a WAR CRIME

  15. No surprise here but it raises more questions than it answers. With the apparently illegal leak of the Harman spy story, now this story about Pelosi’s inside knowlege of the torture program and Lamar Alexander’s implied threat to investigate Clinton era renditions are the Republican’s trying to blackmail the Dems in order to block criminal investigations into Dick Cheney? I think we all know the answer to that one. In the Harman story it appears that the Bush WH all but blackmailed her into being an ouspoken proponent of illegal wiretapping to aid them in passing much desired legislation with the threat of an investigation into her dealings with Israeli agents. It’s not a big stretch to see the same tactics leading both to Pelosi obtaining the Speaker position and simultaneously taking impeachment off the table. I don’t care who was involved and what letter appears next to their name. Nothing should prevent a criminal investigation considering the mountain of evidence allready out there. I guess now AG Holder should begin investigating the Bush Administration’s use of blackmail and Mr. Alexander’s possible abetting in these tactics.

  16. This is one of the many reasons we need an independent special prosecutor ASAP. The top leadership in Congress is implicated in war crimes. A war crimes investigation cannot reasonably come from any group of people who likely participated in their commission. It’s also the reason why the DOJ should not investigate itself. They are also implicated.

    We cannot just sweep this under the rug. The top officials of our current and prior govt. are/have participated in the hideous abuse (to include murder) of other human beings. We should not tolerate these people as “leaders” of or in any other positions in this govt. Do we not realize what it means to have people at the highest level of our govt. colluding in torture and murder? This is not democracy. If we wish to live in a democracy again, we the people, are going to have to fight for it. We cannot keep waiting around while leaving in place people who ordered, assented to, justified, and now obstruct investigation into war crimes. To sit by meekly while allowing war criminals to remain at large and in many cases, to run our govt. is just wrong. We must pressure all the war criminals to resign and we must demand an independent prosecutor. If Holder will not appoint such a person he should resign or be impeached. These are not petty crimes. These are horrific crimes, yet we tolearate these people in our govt. No more excuses. A democracy is about the rule of law. It is about our Constitution. Any politician who flouts the rule of law, dishonors our nation. Left in place, they are a danger to our society. They must resign and present themselves before an impartial court of law.

  17. How can, “We the people” if we believe in our Constitution charge a Congressperson with War Crimes? They do enjoy FULL IMMUNITY while conducting legislative business. How do we balance that act and have her or anyone else in that capacity? This is like GeoII, picking and choosing which parts of the Constitution he wants to abide by or is that buy.

    Now, GeoII, Off with his head and Dick too and all of his balls. That would be W, Dick Cheney, Yoo, Bybee etc.

    I think we have an uphill battle for an ArtII. Now if Spain wants to take it over, then GO FOR it. But then this comes down to selective Prosecution.

    How do we balance that? The Treaty was ratified by Congress. So she was bound by it as a Congressperson. I need help. Yes with this too.

  18. This is so incredibly disappointing and sad. I didn’t want to believe it. Ms. Pelosi is one of the few politicians I actually believe in, although it is safe to say my opinion of her is on the wane.

  19. Regarding the apparent contradiction you may be interested in the following analyses.

    In short this is based on the CIA saying “In the end, you and the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened.”

    To me this is not overly persuasive.

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