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December 10, 2007

Pelosi issues statement on torture briefings

Nancy Pelosi says told in the fall of 2002 that certain torture techniques were legal and that the Administration was considering making use of them.

Spencer Ackerman of TPMM recently posted Pelosi's official statement on the matter:

"On one occasion, in the fall of 2002, I was briefed on interrogation techniques the Administration was considering using in the future. The Administration advised that legal counsel for the both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal.

"I had no further briefings on the techniques. Several months later, my successor as Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, was briefed more extensively and advised the techniques had in fact been employed. It was my understanding at that time that Congresswoman Harman filed a letter in early 2003 to the CIA to protest the use of such techniques, a protest with which I concurred."

Pelosi's statement is consistent with yesterday's story by Warrick and Eggen in the Washington Post.  The article said Pelosi was briefed about waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods in September, 2002.

Pelosi seems to be putting a lot of weight the distinction between being told that torture was legal and being told the CIA was torturing people.

If Pelosi knew that the Administration and the CIA had signed off on the legality of torture, what did she do about it?

As Pelosi notes in her statement, the subsequent ranking Democrat on the Intel Committee Jane Harman was briefed on advised that the techniques had already been employed. Pelosi says she "concurred" with Harman's 2003 protest letter to the CIA. Does that mean she signed something, or did she just silently agree with Harman?

After Pelosi  became House Majority Leader, she replaced Harman as committee chair. Come to think of it, Pelosi replaced Harman with Sylvestre "Jose Rodriguez is Jack Bauer" Reyes.

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Comments

Dock Miles, and you're ignoring the fact that congresspeople have near full immunity for all statements made when they are within the halls of congress.

Article 1, Section 6of the US Constitution. It's called the Speech and Debate clause. stating classified information is not legally treasonous. There is no crime under which these congresspeople could have been charged had they chosen to disclose this information while conducting their duties as congresspersons.

You're basically some random idiot who doesn't know what they are talking about grasping at straws to excuse this kind of cowardly, pathetic behavior.

Free Lunch, no we don't. The constitution has takek care of that for us because our founding fathers had to deal with this exact same shit from King George. What we need is a party that demands leadership from it's leaders, instead of making excuses for them. What we need, and have needed for a long time, is something to believe in. We won't get far holding our noses until we suffocate.

B- money
I am defending Polosi in the same way that the law protects both the innocent and the guilty. No further.
I agree that Polosi and all others tasked with Congressional oversite of the CIA covert programs owe the people an explaination of what they knew and when they knew it.
I don't agree that everything else is irrelevant.
We know just about zilch about the CIA interrogation program, what they did and when they did it and with what legal justification. If someone from the Justice Department told the CIA that waterboarding was legal, I'd like to know more about that. I'd like to know who designed and implemented a program that says that it's morally acceptable and legal for the United States of America to torture people.
If Congressional overseers, including, but not limited to Polosi, did not perform their duty to prevent the CIA from engaging in illegal activities they should be held accountable. I don't see why Polosi should be singled out unless the intent is to destroy a high ranking Democrat with no collateral damage.
At this point I consider the original Washington Post story that started all this to be, in part, a hit piece on Polosi.
The authors singled Polosi out in the first paragraph and the result has been that Polosi is taking 99% of the heat on this and other Blogs that have dispersed the story.
My moral outrage is directed at those most responsible for promoting or enabling torture in the name of The United States.
Polosi may end up on that list but she is nowhere near the top.
For the record, I have zero faith in the moral integrity of any politician Democrat or Republican, so my opinions are not faith based.

Buzz,

I got you. And I agree with a lot of what you are saying. I do not know if it is a "hit" piece on Pelosi, as she is the top ranking Democrat in our government and she may have had info about this type torture for a few years. I think it is good reporting so far. Just as The Shrub (Bush) takes hit for his faults, so must Pelosi and Dems who may have let things slide.

I am with you that people need to be held accountable, from the POTUS to the CIA to Congress to Justice Dept. and on and on and on. But party affiliation needs to be put aside when doing so. Repubs and Dems alike will no doubt share some culpability on this.

Buzz, that sentiment would be touching if it were made in defense of some social outcast, some downtrodden person who has no ability to defend themselves.

However, that you feel compelled to trot such a statement out in defense of some of the most powerful people on this planet pretty much turns it into a joke.

Perhaps we could all agree that there should be a penalty worse than death for those who abuse the classification system?

B-Money
Whether the original Washington Post story was a hit piece or not could be debated (probably endlessly). I wrote a comment to Lindsay about this earlier today under her post linking to the original WaPo story that begins to explain what my opinion is about this.
Journalists make choices about story titles, structure, what words to use and what information to include or omit from a story.
I have to believe that professional journalists are aware of how their choices can influence or manipulate what a reader takes away from a story. The headline makes the most impression and information is understood and retained less the farther into the story that it is buried.
I believe that when Bush gave endless speeches where he put the words "9-11" ,"terrorism", "Iraq" and "Saddam Hussein" in close proximity, he and the speechwriter knew precisely what they were doing, creating associations that many viewers would use to form a belief.
According to polls, millions of Fox News type veiwers certainly came to believe that Iraq was involved in 9-11. Many of them still believe this even though Bush was shown on film at least one time saying something like " I never said Iraq was involved in 9-11."
The correction or retraction never corrects the false impression made from the original story.

The Post story in question is certainly functioning as a hit piece on Polosi and Dems in general, serving to portray any Democratic opposition to torture as hypocritical . The extent to which this was intentional is a matter of opinion.
The more I look at the article the more it looks like a hit piece to me, right down to the final "out of the blue" quote from Feingold which would allow someone to claim the story was "Fair and Balanced".
They said, they said , they said, he said.
Once again, I do not have any faith in politicians of either party but I also have no faith in the words and motivations of either the "two officials present" quoted in the story or the authors of the original Washington Post story.

>Dock Miles, and you're ignoring the fact that congresspeople have near full immunity for all statements made when they are within the halls of congress.

>Article 1, Section 6of the US Constitution. It's called the Speech and Debate clause. stating classified information is not legally treasonous. There is no crime under which these congresspeople could have been charged had they chosen to disclose this information while conducting their duties as congresspersons.

>You're basically some random idiot who doesn't know what they are talking about grasping at straws to excuse this kind of cowardly, pathetic behavior.

It's funny. Long ago, I learned I have this Dark Twin on the internet who's invisible to me, and does all this deplorable crap. And sometimes people cuss him out something fierce.

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away.
–William Hughes Mearns

>Journalists make choices about story titles

I presume you mean headlines. These are often done by editors with zero input from the writers.

Perhaps these briefings are also why Pelosi and other Dems in Congress appear to see the need to immunize the telecoms for their complicity in Bush's warrantless spying programs. They were likely briefed on these as well and did, well, nothing. And while admittedly it's kinda hard to do any oversight when you're in the minority and the climate is one of hysteria and veiled threats; that is their job -- to uphold and defend the US Constitution.

Perhaps there's nothing illegal and/or to get hysterical about, but the dems love to spin this sort of thing out of hand, pretend like they knew nothing about it, all for the sake of placating their base. It's all about trying to resurrect their dismal/abysmal approval ratings.

I kind of think none of this matters. The CIA learned its lesson during the Church Committee hearings in the ‘70s: cover your tracks and paint all the windows with a multiple coats of plausible deniability. If anyone was briefed on whatever, there will be no record of what was said. Look what they just did with the torture videotapes. The videos and whatever paper trail accompanied them have gone up in smoke. Barring a couple choice sequences that may have been spliced together for the Vice President’s onanistic pleasure, they not only don’t exist; for all practical and legal purposes, they never did. What was Pelosi told? What did she know? Who cares, no trace exists. Never did. Move along folks, there’s nothing to see here.

Well, now that we've moved along...

What is the fucking point?


In terms of our government, we need over 2/3rds in the house and at least 62 in the Senate.

All else is circle jerk.

sorry dock, Mudkitty's retarded ass post was so short I didn't even see the comment break :/

The point of that comment still stands. congresspeople have immunity from prosecution for things said in a chamber of congress or in their functions as committee members. Pelosi;Harmen; et al, certain had to know that.. There was absolutely no legal barrier to them getting this information out there if these Democratic congressmen had wanted to. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what they are talking about. The constitution is supreme in matters of law.

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