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May 08, 2009

Pelosi knew in 2002

Nancy Pelosi, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

The CIA released documents that show that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on torture tactics in September of 2002, when she was the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee. According to the documents, the CIA started briefing other members of Congress about waterboarding, including John McCain, in 2005.

The CIA-supplied material confirms a 2007 report in the Washington Post that Pelosi was briefed in 2002. The 2007 story story states that Pelosi was briefed on waterboarding, a charge her office denied in an official statement yesterday. Good thing Nancy Pelosi supports a truth commission to get to the bottom of all this.

Legal question: If a member of Congress gets a classified briefing about illegal activities, is there any way for them to blow the whistle without committing a crime themselves?


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Everything a member of Congress of either house says on the floor is legally protected. Daniel Ellsberg got Mike Gravel to publish the Pentagon Papers in the Congressional Record in order to avoid being prosecuted for leaking them.

So what? Does this imply that responsibility did not lie with the President, George W. Bush, because a member of Congress was briefed? Please.

Everything a member of Congress of either house says on the floor is legally protected

It's not quite that simple. Members of the intel committees have security clearances and take an oath on disclosure of classified information. They can be investigated by the Office of Security and punished or even expelled by the ethics committees under each chambers' rules.

Look Fred, the take away here is that Pelosi knew what was going on and then lied about it saying that she didn't know what was going on.

She did not object in 2002, otherwise she would have said, "I objected to these procedures when briefed on them in 2002, but the administration went and ok'd them anyway."

See the difference? If she now wants to prosecute people for something she herself knew about, she's just as culpable.

And C'mon Lindsay, she was the head of the intelligence committee. Do you really think that if she was not in agreement, and thought it was illegal, that she could not have done anything about it?

legally protected

It's not quite that simple. Members of the intel committees take an oath and under each chamber's rules can be investigated by the Office of Security and punished by the ethics committees.

A bit of a different take on Daily Kos: The media stories, as usual, may not be completely accurate.

I'm sure Pelosi could have done more, I just don't know how she should have gone about it.

This is a problem with the euphemism "enhanced interrogation techniques".

Greg Sargent is reporting that the CIA is not attesting firmly to the accuracy of these documents.

We need more answers.

If you looks at docs, as TPM's Zach Roth, there is not a document that says, "We told Pelosi that we were waterboarding people," but there is one that says, "We told Rockefeller that we were waterboarding people."

My guess is that the gave Pelosi enough information to get the picture, but explicitly told Rockefeller that they were using the techniques in an ongoing program.

There was no will to do anything about torture from Pelosi. In terms of could she have done something? A leak about torture and an investigation by the House could have done the trick. The leaks were there about torture anyway. So she had the means to probe the intelligence community via committee investigation once they got to a majority after the mid term election.

Let's not get hung up on waterboarding exclusively. Notice that Pelosi's statement focuses on waterboarding, but not other torture techniques. Maybe she wasn't briefed specifically on waterboarding in 2002, but I want to see her deny that she was briefed on sleep deprivation and confinement boxes and dogs and throwing insects into confinement boxes and stress positions, etc., etc.

Suffocation is another torture technique used by the US.

Attention grasp approved by Jay Bybee at the request of the CIA:One person would put the prisoners into a choke hold while another slapped him.

Also, a prisoner at Abu Ghraib, Manadel al-Jamadi, was hooded and and shackeld and suffocated to death while being interrogated by a CIA officer.

Also, Iraqi general Abed Hamed Mowhoush "who had walked into a forward operating base of his own accord, trying to secure the release of his four imprisoned sons (who were never charged with anything, and believe they were used as bait to capture their father), and who was initially described as cooperative, was interrogated and severely beaten by a Special Forces group, the CIA, and a CIA-sponsored Iraqi paramilitary, the Scorpions. According to his autopsy, he was left with seven broken ribs and at least 47 contusions, some of them thirteen inches long. Two days later, an Army interrogator stuffed him head-first into a sleeping bag, bound him with electrical cord and sat on him. The interrogator’s immediate superior, who received immunity from prosecution, testified that she had approved the sleeping bag technique, and that, in fact, it had been used on other prisoners.

Mowhoush suffocated.

The interrogator was found guilty of negligent homicide" and got no jail time and had to pay a $6,000 fine.

So what? Does this imply that responsibility did not lie with the President, George W. Bush, because a member of Congress was briefed? Please.

If you were a Congressperson and you were briefed that this was going on, wouldn't you have done something about it?

Congressional oversight of the CIA was created in the 1970s - after Nixon - in order to prevent this sort of thing. I'm afraid a full inquiry could implicate Pelosi, which may be partly why Obama wants to look forwards and not backwards as he has always said.

The bipartisan 9/11 commission was very thorough and they should do something like that and hopefully it won't damage Pelosi who I like and who seems to work well with Obama.

Oops, just the first paragraph should be italic.

Semi-off-topic: many of the facts about torture were out even before 2002. Some of the Guantanamo practices were already public in late 2001 - for instance, Debka had very precise details about the sensory deprivation techniques used there. The details of which techniques were used were still not out yet, but the general idea was known. By 2004, with the Abu Ghraib scandal, everyone knew exactly what the US was up to.

Providing an italics closing tag, just to see if it helps.

Pelosi could have spoken about this in open debate, but it would have opened a huge can of worms. And, I'm not sure if intel committee members have additional legal responsibilities.

I do know that she'd have been in huge trouble if she'd spoken about it *off* the House floor. This was discussed when the first set of questions came out.

IANAL, but to fill out Fred's point that Pelosi's knowing does nothing to mitigate the
responsibility of the Bush administration torture conspirators: misprision of a felony does not make one a co-conspirator.

If Speaker Pelosi did know we were torturing and kept silent, and she is lying about it now -- and I am all for finding out, in due time -- she owes us at least an apology.

But just now these aspersions on Speaker Pelosi are a political red herring thrown out by CIA and the Bush ghosts to absolve the conspirators by spreading the blame and to head off congressional investigations of their crimes. Should we help them?

Again, IANAL, but a document must have a foundation in testimony if it is to count as legal evidence to establish any facts purported in it. CIA Director Panetta can fight back to protect the torturers by releasing documents that purport to show Pelosi knew, but we should require sworn testimony under penalty of perjury as to the documents' origin -- and whether the facts they purport are true. Congressional investigations would be the very venue for such testimony.

Glad you asked! Article I, Section 6 includes:

"The Senators and Representatives ... for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place."

There's a good argument that prosecution for such speech would be vested only in the House or Senate (where it happened) itself.

A prior commentator noted that's how The Pentagon Papers were published.

Utterly amazing, she's STILL lying-

She says she was told the Bush Adm. was considering using "in the future" only. So that means that she was not told "they (EITs) were being used".

But even that is at odds with the CIA memo dated to 9-4-02 that says Pelosi received a "briefing on EITs (enhanced interrogation techniques), including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities and a description of particular EITs that had been employed."

Apparently Obama and Pelosi forgot something: the CIA kills people.... it's in their job description. Did Pelosi think these killers were going to meekly take one for the team, when the team captain is a lying, incompetent, arrogant nebbish with no real-world experience and who told them they need to kiss his ring?

Pelosi is a Machiavellian, no-talent hack who's made a lot of enemies. Going to be hard to BS her way out of this one.

Of the 40 CIA briefings to Congress reported recently in the press, I was only briefed once, on September 4, 2002, as I have previously stated

Lindsay, your headline says that "Pelosi knew," and your text says that the CIA material "confirms" a Washington Post story that Pelosi was briefed on waterboarding. When challenged on this, you say, "let's not get hung up on waterboarding." It's your story, Lindsay. Either stick with it or dial it back, but don't tell us to ignore what you wrote.

Was she briefed about the guys beaten to death? Those hung in cold cells for weeks at a time, dark, music blaring? Those given drugs? The one isolated, the sounds of a woman in agony he was lead to believe was his wife?

Of course not. Could she have guessed? Absolutely. Were the Democrats totally complicit? Your damn straight they were. All this inside baseball about what she was briefed about is I suppose the necessary legalism that is how the system works.

All anyone had to do is read some books or the thousands of scraps on the net describing what was going on. I didn't need any stinking CIA briefing. Well admittedly in the 2002 period details were scarce. Still, to the extent I thought about it I knew.

It's worth seeing what Marcy Wheeler has to say about the Post article.

I can't imagine why anyone would believe anything the CIA says about anyone but hey, that's just me. I suppose it's paranoid of me to believe that CIA officials might stretch the truth a little in order to save their jobs and avoid criminal prosecution.

Bush and Cheney MUST be innocent, because somebody told Pelosi something once.

I'm with Bloix. In addition to inept use of intelligence and analysis, is there anything else coming out of the CIA that isn't self-serving or misdirecting.

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