Pelosi Aide: Speaker Was Told About Torture Being Used on Subjects

220px-nancy_pelositorture -abu ghraibHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been struggling to explain contradictions between her public statements and the release of documents showing that, despite her earlier denials, she was told about the torture of subjects. She recently (and implausibly) insisted that, while she was told of the torture, she was not told that it was actually being used. Now, one of her own aides, Michael Sheehy, has directly contradicted her and said that she was directly told and had no objections to the torture of Abu Zubaydah.

Sheey says that he attended a briefing in which waterboarding was discussed in February 2003, with Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, and was told of the torture of Zubaydah. He said that he told Pelosi who made no objections. Later Pelosi said that she supported Harman sending a letter (that Pelosi did not sign) raising “concerns” but did nothing else in the face of a disclosure of a war crime. Despite her ranking position in oversight and later as Speaker, Pelosi clearly did not want to be accused to protecting the rights of an accused terrorist. Instead, she has adopted a series of excuses for her lack of action.

For those who are losing track of the Pelosi positions, here is what she told Rachel Maddow:

(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.

As I stated at the time, and in a recent interview, this position was not only highly questionable but it was also unintelligible. Discussing war crimes in the future tense does not change the fact that Pelosi sat through a discussion of torture and did nothing.

Through this period, the Bush Administration clearly dangled the knowledge of the program over the heads of democrats like Pelosi to get their assistance in blocking any move toward impeachment or investigation. It worked. Now, with torture program details disclosed, officials have dropped a dime on Pelosi, Harman and others with the release of torture documents. One such document contradicted the prior denial by showing briefings on torture of detainees in the present or past tenses. Pelosi responded with this new answer that admitted that she was told that torture would be used but not that it was actually used.

“As I said in my statement of December 9, 2007: ‘I was briefed on interrogation techniques the (Bush) administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal.'”

As noted earlier, this argument completely abandons any semblance of oversight responsibility. It amounts to arguing “if you can’t believe the Bush White House on international law, who can you believe?” What is particularly striking is that Pelosi is using precisely the same argument that she rejected from Jane Harman on the unlawful surveillance program. Harman insisted that, while she was the critical oversight authority in Congress, she had no knowledge of the law in the area and specifically FISA. She just had to accept the Bush Administration’s insistence that it was legal and did not even have the ability to ask for general information on the law in the area. Now, Pelosi is saying that she just had to accept that a torture program was lawful because the White House said it was. The primary oversight responsibility of these members is to be sure that the Executive Branch is complying with the laws written by Congress. It makes a mockery of the system for Pelosi and Harman to simply take their word for it. The federal law gives Pelosi and Harman the obligation to serve as a check on executive authority, but they believe that this role compels them to accept whatever they are told on the legality of the program. They are simply informed and have not obligations or responsibilities — even when they are given a description of torture.

Now we have an aide stating that Pelosi was told about the use of torture and did not object. It is not clear how not objecting fits her statement that “They have never gotten any comfort from me on any of these issues.” I guess that means that she did not join them in the waterboarding by holding a towel. Obviously, if the aide is telling the truth, Pelosi has lied to the American people on a subject of the utmost importance: war crimes.

Putting aside holding Pelosi accountable for her failure to act and later alleged lies, there remains the increasing political machinations around the torture question. Democratic leaders continue to address the issue of the investigation of war crimes in purely political and personal terms. They continue to manipulate the facts, even in the case of Majority Leader Harry Reid denying that there is sufficient facts for even an investigation by a prosecutor. It is not clear how long Democrats will continue to excuse the conduct of their own leaders while condemning the conduct of Republican leaders. These Democrats helped cover up the torture program for their own personal interests and are now struggling to avoid accountability for their past decisions. The simplest way to gain any credibility on this question is to remove it from the political to the legal realm — with the appointment of a special prosecutor.

For the full story, click here.

24 thoughts on “Pelosi Aide: Speaker Was Told About Torture Being Used on Subjects”

  1. This is no doubt a wiser decision upon consideration of opinions expressed in anticipation of their release by ‘both sides’
    AND in the fields.

    Unlike his predecessor this man not only listens, he thinks!

  2. From the ACLU:

    “NEW YORK – The Obama administration announced today that it is reversing its promise to make public photos depicting detainee abuse by U.S. personnel overseas. The Department of Defense had told a federal judge that it would release a “substantial number” of photos in response to a court ruling in an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

    The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

    “The Obama administration’s adoption of the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration flies in the face of the president’s stated desire to restore the rule of law, to revive our moral standing in the world and to lead a transparent government. This decision is particularly disturbing given the Justice Department’s failure to initiate a criminal investigation of torture crimes under the Bush administration.”

  3. Dick Cheney is right on script with his Col. Jessup characterization. (Thanks Mike A.) Cheney’s derisive interviews to the MSM, earnestly supporting what he learned from Nixon, that if the president declares it’s legal it must be.

    Madam Pelosi when briefed about torture succumbed to what Mike S. refers to as “Her insider status… she swallowed any qualms she might have had and totally abdicated her clear constitutional responsibility.” Now she covers up with lies and is getting caught.

    As JT so succinctly points out, when the MSM debates the effectiveness of torture it too is guilty of deriding the truth. John Yoo, Harry Reid, et all, behave in the same way when defending their actions with regard to institutionally violating the constitution.

    We the people seem to be in the first of three stages. The second will occur once a Special Prosecutor begins investigating the tortured truth. Let’s let them continue defending their treasonous behavior in publicly recorded forums.

    All truth passes through three stages.
    First, it is ridiculed.
    Second, it is violently opposed.
    Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer

  4. pelosi our beloved house speaker! i had no clue of water boarding torture thank you! yet was brief on it? pelosi pig latin or what? told torture would be used but torture was not actually used? airhead answer from our beloved house speaker! truth committee alarm alert! kooks in legislation and security of our country in their buthead minds? oversight harman well i just thought everything was on the up and up answer so i apporved of it too? harman and pelosi both say they excepted torture because white house said it was lawful? apporove it! now want investigation on it? torture! human rights! live in america now! mental torture and sissy imbeciles of gibberish in barney frank washington DC where one in ten have aids? NO TRANSPARENCY over billions and billions of dollars of american tax payers money in their vulgar liars and corrupt hands! now health care reform minds news? imbeciles of lies and deception and most of all no transparency? the jewish homosexual and illegal immigration agenda and rear end policies? INDEPENDENT from them” for our own mental heath and peace of mind! AMEN.

  5. For those who don’t remember Ken Starr…

    I also might add his uncle, CV Starr, is one and the same
    of AIG fame and former CEO Maurice Greenberg’s mentor.

    Kenneth Winston Starr (born July 21, 1946) is an American lawyer and former judge and solicitor general who was appointed to the Office of the Independent Counsel to investigate the suicide death of the deputy White House counsel Vince Foster and the Whitewater land transactions by U.S. President Bill Clinton. He later submitted to Congress the Starr Report, which opened the door for Clinton’s impeachment based on charges arising from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

    Starr currently serves as dean of Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California. He has also filed a lawsuit to invalidate more than 18,000 marriages in California based on Proposition 8. Kenneth Starr is also the nephew of insurance tycoon C.V. Starr.

  6. Does anyone remember Ken Starr…

    Having caught just the last part of this weekend’s CSPAN2 John Yoo Book discussion from 2006, sorely reminded me, yet again, how much did not get accomplished while he was Special Prosecutor and how much money it cost to find nothing.

    I think I actually prefer the ‘open forum’ we’re having now
    – AND it’s ‘free’…

    John Yoo talked about his book, War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror, published by Atlantic Monthly Press. Mr. Yoo argued that the traditional balance of powers must shift to the executive branch when America is at war. He described how the Bush administration grappled with the legal questions brought about by the events of September 11 and the early days of the war on terrorism. At that time Mr. Yoo served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice. Issues included the designation of the remains of the World Trade Center as a crime scene or a battlefield. Until that question was answered, the president’s legal authority to act was unclear.

    After his presentation, Mr. Yoo was joined in discussion by former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr and Professor Jeffrey Rosen. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Schmitt. The panelists also responded to questions from members of the audience.
    American Enterprise Institute

  7. The hearings held by Senator Whitehouse,What a Joke.

    Seemingly qualified people there,and the senators were so busy going to vote,going to meetings and then Whitehouse had to catch a flight.What a joke.Lindsey Graham was very arrogant in his questioning.This very important issue,What a joke.

  8. My god, this women is really nasty looking. Maybe someone tortured her by mistake.

  9. Rep. Pelosi compromised her position, which explains her constant waffling on the issue of investigation and prosecution. The continuing disclosures, however much satisfaction they may give to Republican apologists for torture policies,simply reinforce the need to get it all out in the open, and let the chips fall where they may. Republicans and Democrats alike need to realize that those of us who are committed to the rule of law with a capital “L” are not political partisans.

  10. The aquienscence to the executive branch, an act of extreme cowardice and irresponsibility, had a large role in allowing the executive to commit all of its illegal actions. Imagaine having a functional Congress that would have never have passed the PATRIOT act, especailly without even bothering to read it first. Imagine no AUMF. If the Congress would have taken it’s duties seriously, they might have stopped much of what has come to pass.

    It’s why I worry again, that Congress will not step up to the plate and function as an actual branch of govt. They need to clean out their own people and elevate those who protect the Constitution. They need to stand up to the current executive in his quest to grab unimagined powers for himself. The Congress should select new leaders and start a self investigation. They should tell Holder they will impeach him if he will not appoint an independent special prosecutor.

    I realize there are many people who say wait. To me, this is a dangerous course of action. When powerful people are out of control and amassing more power, they must be stopped sooner, rather than later. It is possible cheney might have been stopped by a Congress willing to take a stand. It is possible that Obama’s executive overreaching and Congressional leadership’s complicity with torture can be stopped and independent investigations of bushco begun if an agressive, actual third governing branch will step forward and act.

  11. WHEN will we be able to trust our govenment? What happens to these people between the first time they are elected and when they walk in the front doors of the Capitol? Are they abducted by aliens? Do they hold secret classes in the basement on pandering, speaking out of both sides of your mouth, lying so quickly that no one actually hears the words you are saying, how to grab as much cash for your friends as you can? It has to stop-it is so exhausting to contact your Senators and Comgresspeople and have them just flap their jaws over your concerns. I know that they may not be elected again- but they might because people are so disgusted they don’t vote. Nancy Pelosi is a thoroughly frightening example. John Murtha- don’t get me started. I can’t even get my Senator Cardin to respond to my messages unless they are about the Chesapeake Bay- which is the only thing the man seems to be interested in. Mikulski should work for Hallmark- there is no substance in anything she says- nothing can stick to any of them. No one will take a stand and hold fast. It has to stop.

  12. Let me remind you of the great words of Henry Ford II, after he was caught red handed with pictures of his girlfriend at his divorce trial. He settled and said “Never complain, never explain.” Good words to live by.

    The problem with lying, the other person has to sing to the fishes. They can’t sign as they might be bound and wound with lime related slippers.

  13. So what? this is still no defense for the Bush Administration. Whether Pelosi knew about it or not, waterboarding is still illegal and something we have prosecuted for since WWII. The only difference here, is that perhaps she is now as legally liable as Bush.

  14. Time for the the congresswoman to exit, stage right. Maybe if she had put impeachment on the table in 2007, she wouldn’t be in this position. One more thing though, even if she “ok’d” the torture, it was and is, still illegal.

  15. Is there no end to this cesspool?. Fire ’em all and let a special prosecutor sort them out.

Comments are closed.