House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has continued her effort to explain past statements on torture and her failure to act to stop a war crime after she was briefed on the torture program. After being contradicted by both documents and one of her aides, Pelosi has now accused CIA officials misleading her in 2002.
While clearly flustered in the press conference, Pelosi continues to maintain that she was briefed on such techniques only once — in September 2002 — and that she was only told that the Administration has established that it could start to use waterboarding, a well-known form of torture. She said that in February 2003 she was only told by her staffer that the Republican chairman and the new Democratic ranking member of the Intelligence Committee had been briefed on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. That sounds like confirmation of torture to me. She added “I’ve dealt with our intelligence professionals for the last 3½ years on an almost daily basis.” Hmmm, after the weapons of mass destruction, the unlawful surveillance, the subsequent unlawful surveillance (after congressional intervention), and other Bush scandals, Pelosi saw no reason not to accept the legal and factual assertions of the agency that she was supposedly overseeing. This dovetails with Pelosi’s view that she had to accept the Bush Administration’s assurance that torture was lawful.
She did add: “I unequivocally oppose the use of torture.” However, she also blocked any effort to investigate torture during the Bush Administration or any effort to impeachment on the basis of war crimes because she insisted that she knew of no evidence to support such allegations.
By the way, Pelosi was protected by the Speech and Debate Clause and could not have been prosecuted for going to the House floor and saying that she believed that the Administration was committing a possible war crime. Moreover, it is simply not true that she was barred for taken other forms of action. She did not have to go to Adelphi to the answer on waterboarding. A simple google search would have revealed a couple hundred site discussing its status as torture and a war crime.
Finally, if Pelosi believes that she was intentionally misled, she should call of a special prosecutor. After all, giving knowingly giving false information to Congress is a crime under 18 U.S.C. 1001(c):
(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to—
(1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or
(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.
Yet, the most she is willing to do is call for another 9-11 Commission — and not a special prosecutor. The value of the commission is obvious. The 9-11 Commission was filled with reliable democrats and republicans who immediately declared that they would not pursue individuals or assign individual blame. It has been ridiculed for its effort to protect leading figures from blame and leaving massive holes in its investigation.
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