He-Said, She-Said, or Compliance With the Law?

Politico’s Glenn Thrush continues the Republican meme of Nancy Pelosi complaining that she didn’t know detainees were being waterboarded when she was fully briefed about it in 2002:

Nancy Pelosi sat down with CNN’s Candy Crowley tonight and gave her most detailed — and passionate — explanation of her muted behavior during an initial classified briefing on enhanced interrogation procedures in 2002.

Crowley — a tough, well-informed and underrated interviewer — kicked it off by asking the Speaker about about a column by former CIA director and ex-House intel chairman Porter Goss accusing Democrats of collective “amnesia” for urging investigations of waterboarding after remaining relatively mute during those first classified briefings.

PELOSI: Well, first of all, let me say that perhaps we do live in an alternate universe, Porter and I.

Porter’s orientation is that he was a member of the CIA before he came to Congress and he speaks now as a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

CROWLEY: Is he wrong?

PELOSI: Perhaps he is seeing it from his perspective. If they say we have a legal opinion, it means we’re going to use it. That’s not how I heard it. They said they had a legal opinion. They said they weren’t going to use and when they did they would come back to Congress to report to us on that. But that’s how I heard that.

Let me say what’s important about how we go forward. Because for some reason the Republicans, while I am barred from talking about what goes on in meetings and I could be charged for revealing classified information, they seem to feel at liberty to talk about everything that went on at every meeting as they saw it.

She went on to make the argument, refuted by the current ranking Republican on the intelligence committee Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), that she didn’t raise objections because they would have served no practical purpose.

Marcy Wheeler points out — very much not for the first time — that to ask whether Nancy Pelosi or other Democrats in Congress objected to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques when they were briefed about those techniques in 2002 is to ignore a much more troubling (to say the least) reality (emphasis in first quoted paragraph is mine):

The Politico presents yet another chapter in their serialized he-said-she-said story about whether or not Nancy Pelosi should have and could have objected during the torture briefing she got in fall 2002, once again ignoring the clear evidence that CIA did not notify Congress of actions they had already taken, as required by law.

[…]

I’ll grant that Nancy Pelosi disagrees with Porter Goss and Crazy Pete Hoekstra on whether or not her complaints about the CIA said it would–in the future–torture would have been effective. I understand that that kind of thing apparently gets your ‘Nads off.

But do you see that Pelosi is saying the Administration was not giving the whole truth here? Have you thought about what she might be referring to? Here’s a hint–an assertion with which Goss’ comments do not disagree (Hoekstra’s are irrelevant because he wasn’t in that briefing).

they didn’t say they were doing it

The CIA came before the Gang of Four, after they had already waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times in a month, and told the intelligence leaders that they had an opinion that would allow them, in the future, to torture. But they didn’t tell Congress they had already been in the business of torture for at least a month. The Bush Administration and the CIA failed to fulfill their legal obligation to notify Congress before it engaged in this kind of activity–hell, they didn’t even notify them after they had engaged in it, not for some months afterwards.

One Response to “He-Said, She-Said, or Compliance With the Law?”

  1. Thanks for the well-written article, bookmarked and rss subscribed…

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