Pelosi knew about waterboarding since 2002

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Democrats were routinely briefed on Bush torture techniques, document shows

RAW STORY  May 8, 2009 

The CIA has leaked a devastating document detailing the dates and explicit details of secret Congressional briefings in which members of Congress were told of the Bush administration's torture techniques and when they had been used.

The document is explicit (PDF here). Most damningly, perhaps, is its description of a meeting held between CIA staff and then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss and now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which shows that Pelosi was briefed on the Bush Administration's torture techniques in 2002 -- even though she's publicly said she was never told about the use of waterboarding.

Equally striking, however, is the volume of the briefings that have been conducted on the CIA's interrogation practices since 2002. The document runs ten pages, with up to four briefings a page.

Briefings given to Democrats are of particular significance because the party has been the most vocal about the Bush Administration's torture practices. Apparently, however, they had known about the practices for years. At least 19 Democrats were briefed about the techniques in detail  by end of 2006.

Those briefed earliest on the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" included Pelosi, Goss, Rep. Jane Harman, then-Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), Sen. John Rockefeller (D), Sen Patrick Roberts (R-KN) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).

On Sept. 6, 2006, the CIA briefed the full Senate Intelligence Committee, excluding Sen. Ron Wyden (D-WA), who did not attend. According to the document, "Significant details of EITs were provided in this briefing to include mentions of waterboarding, diet manipulation, nudity, walling, and stomach slap." EIT is shorthand for "Enhanced Interrogation Technique."

The Committee's composition then included:

The CIA director also briefed the House Intelligence Committee that day (all of whom attended except Mike Rogers [R-MI]). "The Director briefed on specific EITs, provided detailed descriptions and answered numerous questions on the specific techniques," the report says.

Members of theHouse Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,

109th Congress


Also briefed  were Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN).

"The Director [of National Intelligence] 'provided significant details, naming all EITs and providing a verbal description of most EITs,' the report says. "There was also a specific description of waterboarding."

It's important to note that all of the briefings were held in secret, and that lawmakers could have faced criminal prosecution if they spoke out. However, at least two Democrats did lodge complaints: Sen. Rockefeller, expressed his disapproval of items he learned during the briefings in a personal, hand-written letter to Vice President Dick Cheney; while, as the Washington Post revealed in December of 2007 that in 2003 Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) "filed a classified letter to the an official protest about the interrogation program."

"The report, submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and other Capitol Hill officials Wednesday, appears to contradict Pelosi's statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding or other special interrogation tactics," ABC's Rick Klein writes. "Instead, she has said, she was told only that the Bush administration had legal opinions that would have supported the use of such techniques."

On Sept. 4, 2002, US intelligence officials met with Pelosi, then-House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss (who later became CIA director) and two aides. Pelosi was, at the time, the ranking member on the intelligence committee.

"The meeting is described as a "Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EITs that had been employed."

Last month, Pelosi denied having been told of the techniques or waterboarding.

"In that or any other briefing," she said, "we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used," Pelosi said at a news conference in April. "What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel . . . opinions that they could be used, but not that they would."

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said Pelosi didn't remember the meeting as it was described in the report.

"The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used," Daly told ABC. He said "the report backs up Pelosi's contention that she was briefed only once on "enhanced interrogation techniques."

"As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002," Daly said.

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This page contains a single entry published on May 8, 2009 7:09 AM.

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