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Posted by on May 14, 2009 in At TMV | 37 comments

Nancy Pelosi Goes on the Offensive

Good for her. It’s about damn time. Here is her prepared statement (via Marcy Wheeler), which she gave before taking questions at a press conference today (emphasis is mine):

Throughout my entire career, I am proud to have worked for human rights, and against the use of torture, around the world.

As Ranking Member of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in the 1990s, I helped secure the first funding for the Torture Victims Relief Act to assist those suffering from the physical and psychological effects of torture.

I unequivocally oppose the use of torture by our government because it is contrary to our national values.

Like all Members of Congress who are briefed on classified information, I have signed oaths pledging not to disclose any of that information. This is an oath I have taken very seriously, and I have always abided by it.

The CIA briefed me only once on some enhanced interrogation techniques, in September 2002, in my capacity as Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee.

I was informed then that Department of Justice opinions had concluded that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques was legal. The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed.

Those conducting the briefing promised to inform the appropriate Members of Congress if that technique were to be used in the future.

Congress and the American people now know that contrary opinions within the Executive Branch concluded that these interrogation techniques were not legal. However, those opinions were not provided to Congress.

We also now know that techniques, including waterboarding, had already been employed, and that those briefing me in September 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information.

At the same time, the Bush Administration was misleading the American people about the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Five months later, in February 2003, a member of my staff informed me that the Republican chairman and new Democratic Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee had been briefed about the use of certain techniques which had been the subject of earlier legal opinions.

Following that briefing, a letter raising concerns was sent to CIA General Counsel Scott Muller by the new Democratic Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, the appropriate person to register a protest.

But no letter could change the policy. It was clear we had to change the leadership of the Congress and the White House. That was my job.

When Democrats assumed control of Congress in 2007, Congress passed legislation banning torture and requiring all government agencies to abide by the Army Field Manual. President Bush vetoed this bill barring the use of torture. An effort to overturn his veto failed because of the votes of Republican Members.

We needed to elect a new President. We did; and he has banned torture.

Congress and the Administration must review the National Security Act of 1947 to determine if a larger number of Members of Congress should receive classified briefings so that information can be utilized for proper oversight and legislative activity without violating oaths of secrecy.

I have long supported creation of an independent Truth Commission to determine how intelligence was misused, and how controversial and possibly illegal activities like torture were authorized within the Executive Branch.

Until a Truth Commission is implemented, I encourage the appropriate committees of the House to conduct vigorous oversight of these issues.”

Recapping: In September 2002, when Pelosi was the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, she was told that the Department of Justice had given the CIA opinions concluding that certain enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) were legal. She was specifically told that waterboarding was not being used. She was not told that, at the time of this briefing, CIA interrogators had already been using these EITs, including waterboarding, on detainees in U.S. custody for at least a month.

Five months later, Jane Harman — the new Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee — was briefed on the EITs that had been authorized by the DOJ’s legal opinions. Following that meeting, Harman sent a letter to the CIA’s General Counsel expressing concerns about legal issues she felt were raised by these EITs. Pelosi supported the concerns Harman raised in that letter.

This was the limit of what Pelosi or Harman or any other member of Congress in those briefings could do to protest even the limited information they were given, because they all signed an oath not to disclose or discuss the content of the briefings with anyone. And because so few members of Congress were in those briefings — only a handful — it was not possible to end or change the policy. And that was the way the CIA and the White House wanted it. This is the policy — like it or not. Take it, or if you don’t want to take it, take it anyway.

No letter could change the policy. It was clear we had to change the leadership of the Congress and the White House. That was my job.”

And although God knows I’ve never been a Nancy Pelosi fan, I do think that those of us who believe in and support the rule of law owe her a debt of gratitude for that.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • Silhouette

    I have a neighbor whose entire family is involved in crimes in various manifestations…that and they are experts in manipulating public opinion. The net result is that most of the community thinks they are top-notch, the best thing since sliced bread so that it is quite easy for them to continue criminal activities, point the blame at the victims and when the victims say “uh, no…”..they are seen as “crazy”.. Pretty good trick eh?

    There’s more…

    They suck in otherwise decent people, cooing and manipulating facts to paint the picture they know their unwitting cohort-target would want to see in order to step in and assist. Meanwhile they rope them ever so gently into larger and larger criminal activity, all the while logging evidence of that person’s contributions..which eventually leads to a perfect stockpile of blackmail material. Later, when they want bigger “favors” all they have to do is demand them and remind the person that it would be “too bad” if so-and-so found out such-and-such if they didn’t comply. Shocked and appalled, but unable to say no, the erstwhile innocent person is now a slave, a cohort ’till the end.

    It’s weird how people get when they become drunk with power…and the far reaches of the spider’s web they spin and those who get caught in it.

    I suggested before that Congress should offer testimony with immunity as to the coercion carried on by the Cheneyco administration. The only heads that should roll are those that were utterly willing from the get-go and knew exactly what they were up to at the time. BTW, Condelezza Rice is one of those unwitting cohorts. Now she is changed, bitter, conflicted [ie: scared crapless] but still touting the party line for fear of what would happen if she doesn’t… Poor’s written all over her face, she alone of all of the headmen actually has a soul somewhat intact…I say, grant her immunity and you will find out all the nitty gritty details of who did what and when…

    And for God’s sake, give her the best witness protection availible. She’ll need it..

  • GeorgeSorwell

    I see that the usual Pelosi-bashers are very upset about this.

    Maybe we can get that investigation now.

  • jchem

    First off, kudos to you Kathy for bringing this up, since it seems to have been the hot topic of the day. You’ve managed to summarize this up quite succinctly, but my question is why couldn’t Pelosi have said this all along? Her story has managed to morph into so many different accounts of what happened, I honestly don’t know what to believe from her anymore. This morning, she had to read her statement over again, and stuck to it as if she had nothing else to say except what was written beforehand.

    Their certainly is a witch-hunt going on, with the Repubs basically saying “If we go down, then they’re coming with us”. On another thread, mikkel lamented that just by having to run around in this circus shows just what kind of shape we are in as a country (loosely paraphrased). The best thing I think we can do is demand a full-blown investigation into all of it. This includes Bush, Cheney, Pelosi, and anyone else who was even remotely involved, party be damned. This current episode of fingerpointing does nothing.

  • George, you’re exactly right. Attacking Pelosi and trying to divert attention from Republican wrongdoing by alleging guilt by Democratic legislators was a big, stupid mistake. Obama, darn him, went along with the Republican line that investigations and prosecutions would be “distracting”. But no, the Republicans weren’t content to just “get away with it.” Typical of their current “fear and smear” mentality, they had to stir up a hornet’s nest by trying to blame the Democrats for having been briefed about these torture methods.

    Kathy, good article. Thank you.

  • $199537

    I don’t see the point of giving Pelosi immunity, since it’s very unlikely she has done anything that would rise to the level of a crime. I think The WaPo article is right in that the main risk to her is all political, and you can’t give immunity for that. The Post article really sums up the situation very well.

    Pelosi is as believable as any other politician, which is to say not very. The left will believe her, the right will not, and who knows what the people in the middle will believe.

    I would support the release of all pertinent memos and just do the investigation. Doesn’t Pelosi have the power to get the ball rolling?

    • kathykattenburg

      I would support the release of all pertinent memos and just do the investigation. Doesn’t Pelosi have the power to get the ball rolling?

      She does have that power. This is another question that came up on Countdown!

  • AustinRoth

    Yep. Move along you looky-loos. Nothing to see here but a faithful Public Servant, lying through her teeth and performing CYA.

    I wouldn’t believe a six-year old who had continually changed their story trying to find one to keep them out of trouble, and I don’t believe her.

    The single, sole, solitary reason YOU all are pretending to believe hew is due to one letter – (D). Glad to see the Left is continuing to show the Republicans how to run clean government. Well, except for Dodd, Murtha, Pelosi, all the tax cheats in the Administration, the dealings with PMA, and so on.

    • HemmD


      Not everybody views these events through a partisan lens, just the cynical. Since day one, I’ve demanded that the rule of law control the government’s actions. That’s everybody’s government and everybody’s rule of law. If she’s lying, nail her.

      But if her story turns out to be true, you best consider that fact too.

      Porter Goss made a statement about these briefings:

      ” In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA’s “High Value Terrorist Program,” including the development of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and what those techniques were.


      Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as “waterboarding” were never mentioned.”

      Notice, he never said that members were actually told, he just implies they should have known. Tell me, Mr Cynical, if Goss knew they were told, why would he have tip-toed around this? He was in charge back then, so he fr sure knew what transpired.

      No, This is a denial denial in the spirit of watergate. Let’s have an investigation to settle this.

      • AustinRoth

        HemmD – yes, let’s see who is lying. And let’s see if the Left and Pelosi starts a smear campaign against her intelligence aide, Michael Sheehy (who is obviously a Republican plant, right?):

        • HemmD


          You quote an unidentified aid who had no legal right to know, much less pass on, secret briefing details. I guess that doesn’t ring your cynic’s fire bell?

          Pelosi was talking about 2002, not 2003.

          Besides, check out fellow briefed Bob Graham. He caught the party line in their bogus account.

          • AustinRoth

            HemmD – I quoted no one at all. CNN did. Your beef is with them.

          • HemmD


            My beef is with you.
            “The single, sole, solitary reason YOU all are pretending to believe hew is due to one letter – (D). ”

            Our past discussions have demonstrated you have a great respect for the rule of law. Show it now. If she lied, nail her. I agree entirely.

            But what if she’s telling the truth? Have you honestly considered what it means if the CIA helped hide the truth?

            You’ve decided along partisan lines before evidence has been submitted. Just about everybody in this thread has done the same thing.

            You remember Watergate? Remember how EVERYBODY just knew that no sitting President would spy on another party that he was already thrashing in the polls?

            It’s only through the rule of law we find out the truth.

          • AustinRoth

            HemmD –

            Sorry, but you, too, are showing your partisanship, and hypocrisy by trying to present yourself as ‘non-partisan’. Bullshit.

            First, you called me out for ‘quoting’ someone, when all I did was provide a link. Now you conveniently ignore that is what I replied to, and try to shift to focus.

            So, to that point, I am not the law, but private citizen explressing my opinikon. Sorry it offends you so. well, that was a lie. I care not a whit that you choose to be offended.

            I certainly can, and do, form opinions based upon the preponderance of the facts that I read, and from multiple sources. I also do not believe for one second if she was not a (D) that her ever-changing stories, accounts, obfuscations, and flat-out lies of what she knew, and when she knew it, would be treated with the amazing deference the you and the rest of the Left now want to show her. You among others would be leading the call to ‘get to the bottom of this’.

            BTW – at no point have I said one word that she should be dragged in front of any silly ‘truth commission’, or that she should be prosecuted, or any of that crap. I just think, strongly, that she and others in Congress are the ones playing partisan politics with a very serious issue, trying to deny their own knowledge for political reasons, and putting their careers ahead of the truth.

            The bottom line is also a tangent, that I am sick to death of hearing how corrupt and duplicitous the Right and Republicans are, and how pure of heart and honest the Left and Democrats are, when all the evidence clearing shows they are the exact same lying, self-serving, deceitful, corrupt, power-hungry pieces-of-shit.

          • HemmD


            I don’t know how to make my position clearer. Whoever is lying should pay for those lies. That position has never changed.

            You have a right to your own opinion, but not your own facts. You were calling Pelosi a liar and included a link to a later date than when she was talking about yesterday.

            If that’s partisan, fine.

          • HemmD


            I don’t know how to make my position clearer. Whoever is lying should pay for those lies. That position has never changed.

            You have a right to your own opinion, but not your own facts. You were calling Pelosi a liar and included a link to a later date than when she was talking about yesterday.

            If that’s partisan, fine.

          • AustinRoth

            Lying, in and of itself, is not a crime, unless under oath. As for paying for lying, the only ‘penalty’ would be if the voters of her district choose to hold her accountable. But they would not. The WOULD hold her accountable for knowing, given the make-up of her district, which is why she is desperately spinning and telling lies.

            And she has said, clearly, that ‘she was never told that water-boarding was used’. She has since tried to change the narrative to focus on 2002. And I guess it if she did know later, then lied about that, it makes it OK to you.


          • HemmD



            Which is why I have consistently said there needs to be a criminal investigation. Under oath, lies have real consequences.

            I just hope she and Cheney get their wish. Investigate them all and let god sort it out.

          • AustinRoth
  • HemmD


    I think the immunity is intended for Condi Rice. She knows what went on within the administration and is now parroting the party lie – I mean party line.

    I certainly agree with jchem, it’s time to undercover this fetid little piece of political BS and bring the truth out into the open. I don’t care who gets caught, if they took part in this, take em down like the unamericans they are.

    If the rule of law has ceased to have meaning here, it’s time to move on.

  • $199537

    Thanks HemmD I think you’re right. Somebody was talking about giving Pelosi immunity a few days ago and I got mixed up.

  • kathykattenburg

    … my question is why couldn’t Pelosi have said this all along?

    That’s a good question, and I don’t know the answer. Keith Olbermann just asked Howard Fineman the same question on Countdown, and neither of them had a definitive answer, either. It could be something no more mysterious or unusual than just not realizing how unclear she was being. Maybe aides and/or friends and colleagues worked on her to give this press conference. Maybe they told her she wasn’t doing herself any favors by being so vague, because in fact she is in the right. She never had anything to lie about.

  • superdestroyer

    I can see that the progressive in defending Pelosi sounds just like the social conservative Republicans defending President Bush.

    Congress could have ended the torture by refusing to fund it. However, the Democrats will never vote to cut voting because they care more about keeping the public service union happy than about whatever causes they clam to care about.

    Pelosi is going to use national security to cover up for previous lies. She is beginning to sound like Karl Rove.

  • Silhouette

    The importance of granting profilactic-immunity to people will be to further the investigation and prosecution of those truly malignant and culpable. To say “let’s get ’em all…” even those who did things under duress will make people who have vital information and testimony who would otherwise be found as a possible “conspirator” shut down and botch the whole investigation…

    Which of course is what all these GOP spindoctor responders above have in mind…shutting down the inquiry.

    Nope. Grant key players immunity who are suspected of having been roped in against their better judgement, via coercion or fear or blackmail or whatever other shoehorn Cheneyco used to get its agenda forward. Anything else will shut mouths up tight and end the process.

    And again, this is exactly what the GOP spindoctors want..

    The People want immunity for lesser unwitting abettors in exchange for testimony with teeth against those truly responsible for the malignancy, this blight on our nation’s name.

    And don’t forget who ultimately stands behind this whole affair…why Iraq was so “important” to invade, why Cheney now allegedly had an Iraqi official tortured to produce false testimony to go to war there. Don’t forget to ask yourselves why we were there in the first place: BigOil’s attempt at a hostile corporate takeover of strategic reserves there…to get a monopoly in short [I always love to bring this up when gas prices start to creep up like they’re doing just in time for the Summer vacation drivers again…]

    If Congress can find financial ties and evidence linking BigOil lobbying to the invasion in Iraq..I think some hefty fines of their record profits might do very nicely to offset the national debt right about now.

    Imagine, the people responsible paying to restore the Treasury they bled in order to get a monopoly on oil…THAT is perfect justice…

  • Silhouette

    I doubt there will be temptation to cave to the bait you’re laying before them AustinRoth. They have learned a thing or two about strategy. I think you’re suggesting a scattered focus when they are already trained with a steady eye on the targets they know are truly responsible.

    No diversions this time..

  • sphouch

    More evidence in favor of a nonpartisan truth commission.

    Is the right answer in response to a violation of the Supreme Law of the Land to simply “cut off funding?” If what occurred was torture (and I’m unsure how to refer to it as anything else given the history of how we’ve prosecuted these actions – military courts martials, Nuremburg, Texas circa 1983,) then wouldn’t the more prudent action be to build a case and file criminal charges? Hold those who committed the torture (such as was done by those “bad apples”) as well as those responsible for the implementation of torture accountable for their violations of the law?

  • DdW

    “In testimony that could bolster Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the CIA misled her during briefings on detainee interrogations, former Senator Bob Graham insisted on Thursday that he too was kept in the dark about the use of waterboarding, and called the agency’s records on these briefings “suspect.”

  • DdW

    “In an interview with the Huffington Post, the former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman said that approximately a month ago, the CIA provided him with false information about how many times and when he was briefed on enhanced interrogations.

    “When this issue started to resurface I called the appropriate people in the agency and said I would like to know the dates from your records that briefings were held,” Graham recalled. “And they contacted me and gave me four dates — two in April ’02 and two in September ’02. Now, one of the things I do, and for which I have taken some flack, is keep a spiral notebook of what I do throughout the day. And so I went through my records and through a combination of my daily schedule, which I keep, and my notebooks, I confirmed and the CIA agreed that my notes were accurate; that three of those four dates there had been no briefing. There was only one day that I had been briefed, which was September the 27th of 2002.”

    As for the one briefing he did attend, the Florida Democrat said that he had “no recollection that issues such as waterboarding were discussed.” He was not, per the sensitive nature of the matters discussed, allowed to take notes at the time. But he did highlight what he considered to be pretty strong proof that the controversial technique was not discussed.

    “What struck me…was the fact that in that briefing, there were also two staff members,” he said. “As you know, the general rule is that the executive is to brief the full committees of the House and Senate Intelligence committees about any ongoing or proposed action. The exception to that is what is called “covert action,” where the president…only briefs the Gang of Eight, which is the four congressional leaders and the four intelligence committee leaders. Those sessions are generally conducted at an executive site, primarily at the White House itself. And they are conducted with just the authorized personnel, not with any staff or any other member of the committee…. Which leads me to conclude that this was not considered by the CIA to be a Gang of Eight briefing. Otherwise they would not have had staff in the room. And that leads me to then believe that they didn’t brief us on any of the sensitive programs such as the waterboarding or other forms of excessive interrogation.”

    The remarks made by Graham bolster the comments offered by Pelosi on Thursday. The Speaker told reporters that during her briefing session in the fall of 2002 she was not just kept in the dark about the issue of waterboarding, she was assured that it had not been used.”

  • DdW

    Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff of the Department of State during the term of Secretary of State Colin Powell:

    “Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002–well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion–its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa’ida.”

    O yeah, another “unidentified aid who had no legal right to know”?

    Another partisan hack?

    Another unpatritoc retired military, whow served under another unpatritoc, partisan, know-nothing, retired military….General Colin Powell?

    Another one who has “caught the party line in their bogus account.”

    Yes, sure…

    Just kep telling yourself that.

    • HemmD

      D. E.Rodriguez

      I assume your flame is intended for me.

      I merely pointed out a chronology that you failed to note. Pelosi talks about a Feb 2002 meeting, and admits an aid notified her later. I’m the last person to defend that women, but the point I’m making is that none of the other congressmen in that same briefing have come forth to call her a liar. Why? If they do, nail her, but if she’s telling the truth, ten the CIA took an active part in covering up for the administration.

      I don’t know what happened, but you don’t either. For what it’s worth, I believe Cheney ordered torture to try to get someone to confess to an al-Qa’da link. There’s enough crap flying around this situation to splatter everybody.

      I merely assert that politics have to be removed from this examination or partisan BS will keep the truth from coming out. My only dog in this fight is justice.

      You best realize there’s a ton of people who don’t want the truth to be known, and the only way to avoid their mis-directions is to believe no one not under oath. The rule of law only works when you don’t assume who someone is means they are beyond reproach. If you don’t, you make the argument that a Vice President beyond reproach with the same brush. Truth will out.

      • DdW

        Touché, HD.

        As I said in some other comment, “the truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

        • HemmD

          D. E.

          I couldn’t agree more, pissed off is putting it mildly.

          Kit Bond was on morning Joe this AM actually saying he couldn’t believe the CIA would lie to the congress..

          I guess he doesn’t remember Iran-Contra, or Laos, or ……….

          Truth will out

  • superdestroyer

    Pelosi is either incompetent, lying, or both. Either way she is showing that is has no more business being speaker of the house than Dennis Hastert had. When incompetent politicians are removed from office maybe the U.S. can move forward. But as long as hyper-partisans insist on defending and excusing incompetence, nothing wil improve.

  • CStanley

    It would have been great if one of the reporters had asked her if she was willing to open investigations so that she could give her side of the story under oath.

    • kathykattenburg

      It would have been great if one of the reporters had asked her if she was willing to open investigations so that she could give her side of the story under oath.

      One of the reporters did ask her that. She said she welcomed an investigation.

  • kathykattenburg

    And don’t forget who ultimately stands behind this whole affair…why Iraq was so “important” to invade, why Cheney now allegedly had an Iraqi official tortured to produce false testimony to go to war there.

    Actually, it’s even worse than that. If you’re referring to the request that came from Dick Cheney’s office to waterboard a former official of Saddam Hussein’s government, that happened after the war started. The official wasn’t actually waterboarded because Charles Duelfer (the weapons inspector at the time, looking for the imaginary WMDs) refused to do it. But Cheney was requesting that an Iraqi official who was already cooperating with interrogators be tortured to make him falsely confess to a connection between Al Qaeda and Hussein’s regime to justify an invasion that had already happened.

  • Pelosi also pointed out two very key points, that AR and the Right (great band name) keep trying to obfuscate. 1) Congress was not asked to advise and consent. They were just briefed. They were given no role in decision making and have no legal liability for the decisions made unilaterally by the Bush administration to abandon law and morals and torture people. 2) Congress persons, Pelosi included, were forbidden to speak out publicly or privately about the briefings. They signed a pledge to that effect, and Pelosi honored the pledge.

    Bush officials appear to have violated very serious laws. Pelosi appears not to have violated anything.

    But go ahead and blast away as much as you want. I hope it pisses off the Dems enough to defy Obama and launch serious under-oath investigations.

    • AustinRoth

      GD – You lie now.

      I made no statement implying that Pelosi was obligated to advise and consent, nor that she has any legal liability. In fact, I have clearly said the exact opposite.

      All I have done is called her out for her hypocrisy about claiming that she knew nothing (recent comments), when in fact she did. She has now admitted that indeed, despite her earlier lies, she knew about water boarding, and its extent, starting in 2003.

      I tried to obfuscate nothing – it is you who are tying to claim I said what I did not.


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