Memo to WaPo: Torture Is Not Just Waterboarding

The WaPo has a weird article today–purporting to pinpoint how Nancy Pelosi first learned of waterboarding. It suggests that Michael Sheehy–a Pelosi staffer when she was briefed in September 2002, who then worked for Harman, and subsequently returned to work for Pelosi–told Pelosi about waterboarding after having been briefed on it February 5, 2003.

A top aide to  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday. 

[snip]

But Michael Sheehy, a top Pelosi aide, was present for a classified briefing that included  Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, at which agency officials discussed the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida. 

But the claim–that the documents the CIA released to Congress makes it clear that Sheehy was briefed on waterboarding in February 2003–is totally false. The briefing list, after all, does not specify that the briefing covered waterboarding at all. 

Discussion of detainee interrogation program/techniques.

Existence of AZ tapes briefed and that the tapes to be destroyed as soon as IG completed his report.

It was also discussed that interrogation methods were similar to those taught/used in SERE training.

So if the WaPo is sure the briefing covered waterboarding–as opposed to just torture generally–then it didn’t learn that from the CIA briefing list. To make the claim, the WaPo points to the details of the Roberts/Rockefeller briefing that Rockefeller didn’t attend (though the WaPo doesn’t tell its readers that Rockefeller didn’t attend), claiming with no proof that the briefings were the same.

Five months after the Pelosi-Goss meeting, in briefings for the new leaders of the Senate intelligence committee, the CIA "described in considerable detail . . . how the water board was used," according to the documents released Thursday.

Mind you, I’m not disputing that the Goss/Harman briefing covered waterboarding–I’ve always assumed it did until I saw this list. But the list does not specify that waterboarding was discussed, as it does elsewhere, and the Senate briefing is not dispositive of what went on in the House briefing, so this can’t be where the WaPo got this claim from.

Which is one reason I find it notable that the WaPo interviewed Jane Harman for this interview–and it suggests that Harman said she was told the torture videos depicted waterboarding.

Harman was surprised at what she learned, particularly that intelligence officials had video of the waterboarding of Abu Zubaida and were planning on destroying it.

Harman said in an interview that she "did not recall" discussing the issue with Pelosi.

And from discussions dating back to 2007, the WaPo completely misrepresents the plain statement of a Pelosi statement on Harman’s stance on torture (but not necessarily specifically waterboarding).

Pelosi herself acknowledged in a December 2007 statement that she was aware that Harman had learned of the waterboarding and had objected in a letter to the CIA’s top counsel. 

That’s not what Pelosi said: She made no specific reference to waterboarding (as opposed to enhanced techniques).

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.

Again, I don’t dispute that Pelosi may have known about waterboarding by February 2003–but this statement is not proof to the fact.

So to review: WaPo says that the CIA briefing list proves Sheehy learned about torture in February 2003. And WaPo says that Pelosi’s statement proves she learned the CIA was waterboarding by around that point. While I don’t dispute the underlying facts (that Sheehy learned about waterboarding in February 2003, that Pelosi learned about it around then–I don’t know one way or another), neither of these statements prove what the WaPo says it does. If the WaPo knows this for a fact, it knows this from another source.

Which is why I find this tidbit–the only anonymous source in an article based on interviews with Democrats Jane Harman and DiFi and Republicans Crazy Pete Hoekstra and Cryin’ John Boehner–so interesting.

A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy.

This is either an incredibly crappy and logically false article–or either Harman or DiFi is out to prove that Pelosi learned about waterboarding via non-CIA means before it became public in 2004-2006.

Or both.

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123 replies
  1. JohnLopresti says:

    Something about the media published comment at Washington Post is redolent of what that outlet usually tries to do, bastion of confidentiality which it is characteristically. A commenter asked a few threads ago something like how the staff’s being banned altogether from briefings…to permissions to attend briefings…morphed into permission to take notes, or, the briefings were out of bounds to staff altogether, and G4/8 in pro per could/not take notes.

    I wonder if there is another map overlay which might help the timeline of what restrictions G4/8 endured during the rollout of these programs which abrogated prisoner rights.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t know of any claim that staffers weren’t allowed to be present for the torture briefings. The allegation comes from the warrantless wiretap briefings–from Jello Jay’s note to Cheney on the program (and, frankly, from Ashcroft’s ICU-bed comments to Gonzales and Card). So there’s no reason to assume (that I know of) that the same was true for the torture briefings.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    “Anatomy of Deceit”, p. 133 The War and the Leak Timeline.

    Feb 5, 2003: “Sec of State Colin Powell addresses the UN, making the case for war. Powell does not mention the Niger allegation, though he does use the aluminum tubes and MBLs to defend the war.”

    IIRC, the preceding August (of 2002), Andy Card had said something along the lines of ‘you don’t roll out a new car in August’; the White House Iraq Study Group (WHIG) had been meeting since at least Sept 2002 ramping up war frenzy based on lies.

    Cheney’s Shadow NSA had been putting the ‘16 Words’ about Niger yellowcake into Bush speeches since at least the preceding October. Back in October 2002, Tenet had insisted the WH remove that reference in GWBush’s speech in Cinncinnati; however, by 23 Jan 2003 — a week before this purported date of 5 Feb 2003 referenced in your post — the ‘16 Words’ about Niger yellowcake had been inserted into the SOTU.

    This date of 5 Feb 2003 — within 2 weeks of a SOTU containing lies intended to serve as the rationale for war, and about 6 weeks before the ‘Shock and Awe’ began in Baghdad, certainly would be a … (ahem) ‘convenient time’ for the BushBots and CheneyEnablers to claim that Pelosi was told of waterboarding. Because it would be the best time to make her complicit in THEIR lies, their war, and their disastrous policies.

    But given all that was occuring – with Powell at the UN, with the CIA realizing that someone had subverted their efforts to call off the dogs of war by getting the 16 Words into the SOTU — it’s not likely this tale is true.

    What is interesting, in view of the post, is how — IF this were a fictional tale — that 5 Feb 2003 timeframe to use in anchoring some kind of Pelosi guilt would be useful. Because if it were true, then it would mean that she was signing off on waterboarding on the very day that Powell was permanently damaging his reputation at the U.N.

    Which is why — precisely why, IMVHO — it’s surely false.
    It’s not credible that on that very day Pelosi somehow ’signed off’ on waterboarding.

    But if you were Scooter Libby, or Perle, or Hadley, or a member of WHIG, or any of that rotten cabal, then you’d want to make Pelosi look ‘guilty’ before the war, and during that timeframe.

    The asshole depravity of these creeps never ceases to take my breath away.

    Claiming that Pelosi signed off on waterboarding **the very day that Powell was at the UN** is too clever by half.

    These people are utterly, absolutely depraved.
    The timing is just too bloody perfect — in fact, it is sooooo ‘perfect’ that it’s damn suspicious. And almost certainly a complete crock of shit.

  3. Citizen92 says:

    EW, thanks for your comment on the other thread. So was the Washington Post’s December 2007 reporting wrong?

    The Post reported that Pelosi + 3 other Members learned specifically about waterboarding (and other “harsh techniques”) in a September 2002 briefing from an unspecified person or agency.

    In September 2002, fourt members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

    Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill.

    Is a briefing about “waterboarding and other harsh techniques” a different basket of apples that a “briefing on enhanced interrogation techniques?”

    I’d sure think that the CIA would be the best organization to given those 4 Members of Congress a “virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites?

    Yet a single meeting of 4 Members does not appear in the 2002 log.

    Was the December 2007 Post story wrong about Pelosi? The article liberally quotes two unidentified staffers. Were they just furthering their agenda?

    • emptywheel says:

      I think what I believe are inaccuracies in that come from several sources: 1) Journliasts’ assumption that these are still and always Gang of Eight briefings (it took me months of pointing out to some very good journalists, for example, that the warrantless wiretap briefings were ONLY Gang of Four, and not always together, before they started thinking about that), 2) The purpose of that leak, which was probably CIA, and probably an attempt to implicate Congress much as is happening now. So I wouldn’t get too hung up on the suggestion the brieing happened together–there’s a lot of reasons why a WaPo source would make that error.

    • cinnamonape says:

      If such a briefing occurred it’s not on the CIA’s list of “briefings”. Which is odd…since they surely would want to show all the recorded legitimate briefings to those in the appropriate Committees.

      So either this report is a) false; b) to individuals not in the Gang of 8; c) only made available to one Party in the Gang of Eight (and not the minority Party).

      If there really was a “video-conference briefing with a virtual tour” one would have to wonder why there are no records of such a complex activity. Certainly there would be a large number of actions recorded that would have needed to be arranged to have such a briefing.

      As well, a virtual tour almost always means that something was pre-recorded. So there must be a VCD of such a presentation. Where is it?

  4. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    So to review: WaPo says that the CIA briefing list proves Sheehy learned about torture in February 2003. And WaPo says that Pelosi’s statement proves she learned the CIA was waterboarding by around that point.

    Additional point:

    I can’t believe that I’m the only one who reads or comments here who’s ever been ‘briefed’ in order to make a policy decision or be part of a recommending group. Surely, plenty of people around this blog have been in that position.

    IMHO, it depends on who’s doing the briefing and on how clearly and succinctly they present. I’ve sat through briefings that were crappy (and bitched in detailed, point-by-point follow-up to supervisors who let their staff make fools of themselves by failing to preview and hone their presentations).

    Sometimes, you don’t know what questions to ask to get the correct info.
    I remember one briefing where staff said ‘the scenario is A’; I’d happened to be in a situation to know that the situation was anything but ‘A’, and exposed the staff as failing to understand what the hell they were supposed to be explaining. (It did not make me points with them, but I digress…)

    If someone said that they were doing ‘enhanced interrogations,’ the notion that any person could conceivably be waterboarded as part of that – let alone 183 times within a month!! — would frankly be so far off almost anyone’s radar screen that it’s simply not realistic to blame Pelosi for having missed it.

    Basically, what we have here is the revelation that Congress can’t effectively oversee whatever shit Cheney, the CIA, or clever bureaucrats want to pull.

    Congress has lost control.
    This is just a symptom of that fact.

    • LabDancer says:

      “…I can’t believe that I’m the only one…”

      You’re not.

      This is just about sharing the feeling, so don’t anyone here think it’s worth reading for on-topic pith or anything.

      While out of town on a lengthy trial some years ago, I happened to share with a colleague defending another person on the same case that I would not be available for a necessary continuation over a period of a few weeks owing to my involvement in another trial, just mentioning the client’s name, whereupon my colleague regaled me over an entire evening with a tale of his misfortune in having served on a board with my client, how nasty the consequences of that turned out, and how much of a threat to a then-budding career it posed. In the throes of the trial, I set the story aside as one of those “there by for the grace” things [Learning one’s client is thought to be a rogue, whether for good reason or none, is far from an unusual occurrence.], except some weeks later it returned to mind as I sat in during the latest in a series of confidential meeting of a board I myself served on, and realized how little I or, as far as I knew, any of the other board members knew of the issue we were being briefed on that was independent of the one member briefing us; how much money was, and could be, tied up in the particular business; and how little of the ‘information’ we were being given needed to be altered so very slightly to constitute something of a con.

      I’m not proud of this: for some weeks prior I’d not been able to sustain sufficient interest in the particular bit of business we were being briefed on to follow what, in retrospect, seemed [still seem] contradictory and to present some warning signs — assuming, that is, I was recalling things correctly, which I wasn’t confident about, or if I’d taken useful notes, which I knew I’d not [The membership had grown friendly over time, and also the membership’s tradition of post-meeting, sometimes late-in meeting refreshments couldn’t have helped.] In conversations later with some other board members I shared this impression, with a fairly predictable range of reactions. The piece of business benefited the shareholders by any measure, and not any of us — based on those parts of the business share with us — but the concern that I and others may not have seen everything, and the inability to spark any interest in exploring that further, led me to decline to stand for re-election — the same as but one of the other board members with whom I’d shared it.

      And it’s an odd thing, but through all the years and years after, whenever I happen to run into one or the other of those members, invariably the same concern gets raised, usually to the effect of whether I still have it, or whether I’ve learned something new that one way or the other has allowed me — and so them — to put it to bed.

  5. bmaz says:

    It is a little tangential in relevance, but it has struck me in the last 24+ hours how these discussions and the CIA report etc. quietly emphasize how early in the gig the existence of the torture tapes was being bandied about, as well as the determination to destroy them. Why the hell didn’t the very thought of destroying evidentiary tapes, in and of itself, cause more concern? Is the Company engaging in the overselling of that point to self servingly cover their ass on that as well?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Until — and even after — Scooter Libby was indicted, they always assumed that they’d get away with whatever they were doing.

      And why wouldn’t they assume it?
      They’d never been so much as slapped on the hand for Iran-Contra; Ollie North appears to have taken the fall for whoever was involved there (and we have to include Iranians, Israelis, South Americans, CIA….) so all the players went on unimpeded.

      Feith, Wolfowitz had been tossed out of DoD at some point for espionage, but then found themselves back again — and right by Rumsfeld’s side, no less. So no consequences for their careers or livlihoods.

      GW Bush does not appear to have ever had to really make amends for any harm he’s ever caused; his daddy got him off cocaine charges, and family ‘friends’ out of bankruptcy. Why would he think that he’d ever have to face consequences?

      Cheney is the same tale: five deferrments, yet he seems to have supposed that made him smarter than anyone with years of experience (Fallon, Sestak, Richard Clarke, Wesley Clark come rapidly to mind). I can’t see anything in what I’ve read of Cheney that remotely suggests the man believes he owes anyone anything, or has to accept consequences of his destructive conduct.

      I don’t think it even crossed the minds of these people that anyone would ever call them on their bullshit.

      • bmaz says:

        Yep. They cowed the checks and balances, most notably, of course, the Democrats. But many Republicans that would otherwise have maybe spoken up as well. The criminal enterprise, and it is not hyperbole to call it that, is still in a remarkably hardened state as to its defenses and imperviousness to accountability. But there are several areas where there really is a soft underbelly exposed and ready to be filleted open. I have been convinced from the initial reveal of the saga that the torture tapes are such a point. Still think that. If John Durham has done his job with the proper degree of zeal (a huge “if” I might add) I think there are going to be more Zelikow like memos and other evidence of of dissent that was not only consciously disregarded, but attempted to be covered up and/or eliminated.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I think there are going to be more Zelikow like memos and other evidence of of dissent that was not only consciously disregarded, but attempted to be covered up and/or eliminated.

          Missing White House emails.
          Lies as the basis for war.
          No bid contracts.
          Outing a CIA officer charged with tracking WMD.
          Niger forgeries.
          Renditions.
          Treating other nations like disposable crap.
          Secret Energy Task Forces…

          Okay… my point is that by the time you stab this many people in the back, lie to millions, screw the economy, and rely on a diabolical liar like Chalabi, someone somewhere is going to have stored up documents, notes of phone calls, etc.

          Worms are turning, quietly, under the radar.
          It’s only human nature for people to push back at those who treated them like shit, and this group has surely made some really important enemies.

          What they try to squelch will only end up oozing out from under the doorjamb.

        • MadDog says:

          Speaking of Durham and the case about the destroyed CIA videotapes, Jason Leopold had this yesterday:

          CIA Refuses to Turn Over Torture Tape Documents to ACLU

          The CIA claims the integrity of a special prosecutor’s criminal investigation into the destruction of 92 interrogation videotapes will be compromised if the agency if forced to turn over to the American Civil Liberties Union detailed documents identifying the individuals responsible for destroying the material, the reasons for the purge, and the torturous tactics depicted on the tapes, according to newly released court documents.

          In a May 5 letter to U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein, Lev Dassin, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said the Justice Department recently had discussions with prosecutors working on the criminal investigation into the destruction of the interrogation tapes and was informed that “the production of documents…would conflict and substantially interfere with the [criminal] investigation” into the destruction of the interrogation tapes…

          “As the court is aware, the scope of the tapes investigation includes the review of whether any person obstructed justice, knowingly made materially false statements, or acted in contempt of court or Congress in connection with the destruction of videotapes,” Dassin’s letter says. “The Government thus respectfully requests that [a previous court order demanding the CIA turn over detailed descriptions of the contents of the destroyed tapes] be withdrawn or otherwise stayed until the tapes investigation has been completed.”

          There’s more, and it basically leaves up in the air whether this is another CIA/DOJ stall job or whether Durham is actually got a fish or two on the indictment line.

          If this isn’t a CIA/DOJ stall job, then wtf was the DOJ/CIA saying back in March 2009 that Durham had not requested a continuation on the now expired stay?

          As one point of Jason’s piece, he brings up the mysterious delay in Dusty Foggo’s reporting to prison.

          No public sign yet of the latest DOJ/CIA memo to Judge Hellerstein that Jason references, but I’ll be keeping a Google-eye out for ‘em. *g*

      • NCDem says:

        We are now learning that the CIA is officially becoming the Fourth Branch of our national government. Dick Cheney is following their lead and beating his chest as he declares he is answerable to “no one”. Not Congress, not Justice, and not the American public.

        During the Libby/Plame two year B rated movie, many felt kinder toward the CIA. We shouldn’t have been deceived. The CIA is so enmeshed within our media, our corporate structure, and even in the WH that it now snubs its nose at the rest of government. Since the strength of the CIA was vaulted into position with Allen Dulles in the Bag of Pigs, it has only strengthened its standing vis a vis the other three weaker branches.

        • behindthefall says:

          If one had a decades-long plan to establish a parallel power structure, one could do worse than to pick the DoD and the CIA; that’s certainly where raw and subtle power lie, not to mention nearly astronomical amounts of money.

          I can’t get a sense of what the CIA is like inside. (Who can?) You have (or had) people like Goss and Foggo at or near the top, you have some astonishing fraction of the budget and data collection being done by private contractors, and you have attacks on the careers of uncorrupted agents (well, at least one we know of; are there more?) It can’t be pretty.

          Your statement that “Dick Cheney is following their lead …” IMHO is reversed, but then, I have no proof for that opinion, just a hunch.

      • Leen says:

        Our nation seemed to be led by psychopaths and pathological liars. Do folks with this type of pathology run in packs or pac’s?

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, it won’t do them much good bc Jane Harman rose her objections immediately. But yeah, if they can put the destruction date earlier, then maybe no one will notice that Moussaoui was already asking for such things.

  6. behindthefall says:

    I have learned from recent threads that ABC can be considered a mouthpiece for the CIA. (I did learn that, didn’t I?) Is the WaPo a mouthpiece for some part of the government, too?

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      I think it depends on the reporter and his/her particular editor. I don’t know what Paul Kane’s track record is for ferreting out the truth. Walter Pincus, listed as a contributor for that article, has an excellent reputation and is known to be a reporter who delves deep into government documents when other reporters may not be inclined to.

      • emptywheel says:

        I would have to go back and see if that’s the Pincus article I skewered him for, basically repeating the CIA line verbatim. Pincus is a good reporter. but he’s the CIA’s good reporter, going back decades. And from time to time, his pieces do look like they’re written by the PR department of the Agency.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think it’s a question of any news outlet being the mouthpiece for one branch of govt. Rather, I think it’s a general credulity for anonymous sources.

    • Nell says:

      Is the WaPo a mouthpiece for some part of the government, too?

      In the 1970s and 1980s, the cliche was: NYT: CIA , WashPost: State. But that was a long time ago.

  7. LabDancer says:

    Sorry if this point has been made in an earlier thread since ew’s first post on the briefing list/purported summary/supplemented artifice.

    Noting that staffer Sheehy is noted as present for the September 2002 briefing, it would appear that might provide a source of support for then-ranking member/now-Speaker-and-lightning-rod-for-winger-rantery [Just check any winger website; their names for her are beyond disparaging.] Pelosi, such that this “wierd” WaPo piece [the accuracy of which description I question; compared to what? WaPo pieces on the Plame leak?] would seem to address at least partially an effort to address that problem, or at least commence such an effort.

  8. bobschacht says:

    EW,
    One of the things that distinguishes you from the run of the mill journalists of today is that your graduate training involved a close reading of manuscripts. Your graduate training taught you to be precise with words.

    Unfortunately, most journalists have only a B.A. in Journalism, right?

    My experience dealing with college students at my work place is that there are qualitative differences between undergraduates and graduates, and especially between those with Master’s degrees and those with Ph.D.s. Time and time again, I have discovered that people with less than a ph.d. have difficulty understanding detail. I suspect that your readership here is better than most in this regard, i.e., people with less than a Ph.D. who are still careful readers, although I don’t have explicit evidence of that. But I think it shows with Rachel Maddow, too– who I was delighted to discover has a doctorate.

    Let me tell a story by way of example. At my workplace, one of the things we do is a “satisfaction survey” of people who have received services from a state agency. My lone assistant (who keeps changing about once a year) manages the mechanics of the survey, and we try to work them into the analysis end of things running descriptive statistics and summarizing the responses. We also write our reports for agency managers who have a low threshold for detail. In the past 4 years, the one mantra I have learned is not to provide “too much information.” My assistants usually have a masters in something, but sometimes they don’t. When they write about the responses we get to the questions, they will generally paraphrase the questions, and often the paraphrases are very inaccurate. One section of questions is about counselor “helpfulness”, with a scale ranging from “very helpful” to “very unhelpful.” Sometimes my assistant will blithely summarize these questions in terms of “satisfaction”, i.e., inferring that if a service recipient thinks their counselor was “helpful,” that means that they are satisfied, so they’ll just substitute the word satisfied (or some equivalent) for helpful, even though the word satisfied appears nowhere in the question or the answers. What they are doing is describing the “gist” of what they think the respondents are saying.

    I think perhaps that’s what our lazy journalists of today do. They report on the “gist” of what someone says, and when someone like you comes along, and belabors them for not using words in a precisely correct way, they complain that you are nit-picking. But as you point out, their “gists” are often wrong, and misleading.

    Sometimes I think maybe your typos are just to test us, and see if we’re paying attention (*g*). And as a regular reader of this blog, I know that many of us ARE paying attention, and have learned from you the value of careful reading.

    I hope I haven’t offended any of our careful readers who do not have doctorates in something or other.

    Thanks,
    Bob in HI

    • harrison says:

      You have come very close. But then I always thought Ph.D stood for Piled higher and Deeper.

      • bobschacht says:

        Alas! What I was trying to do was
        (a) compliment EW on her ability to read documents that many people would find boring with a fine tooth comb, coming up with gem after gem;
        (b) Compliment the commenters here in the Wheel House for their demonstrated ability to follow EW’s example, regardless of their level of education, whatever that might be;
        (c) throw a few brickbats at MSM journalists who are behaving unprofessionally, joining the chorus of others in this place.

        Anything else was an unintended consequence, and deserves to be ignored.

        Bob in HI

    • LabDancer says:

      I very much tend to agree — and I think perhaps an example comes from the divine Ms empty’s live blog of “that trial”:

      when the estimable Pincus was testifying — someone whose background, education, training and standards all seem to contribute to scrupulous precision in his, relative to the run of the mill at least, extremely sophisticated reporting.

      The impression I had from ew’s lightning-witted reporting was he — even he! — had lapsed into some gisty thinking about the context in which what he was there called to testify about occurred, and that it was only when his mind was directed by the lawyers to cast back to the events and some article was shown to him that the light bulb went off — whereupon he chuckled

      [my own impression, through our ms dickens emptywheel, ruefully at being confronted with clear evidence of an instance of he himself being seduced into the same lazy thinking he professionally despised and doesn’t tolerate in his own work].

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      Well, I get the gist of what you’re saying. With only a masters and abd, I like it here, though.

    • SanderO says:

      But your premise is that most people in question are very precise with their language and choose their words very carefully either to be ambiguous or the reverse.

      My sense is that people who do not prepare their thoughts and words in advance often are sloppy in their language.

      Just look at all of W’s malapropisms.

    • Leen says:

      Damn Bob you are hittig nail after nail on the head today or was this last night? I agree as a person with a PhD (Post hole digger) degreee I have definiely noticed this distinction between folks with a Masters and those who go and dig much deeper into their studies and professions.

      Not to say that I have not met morons with their PhD’s. In fact my old neighbor Roland Carmen who passed on years ago at 93 (the only travelling he had done was during WWI) This man had only gone to school until 8 th grade and he could look at folks and generally size them up in a few seconds, knew more about world history (addicted reader) and people’s natures without a Harvard degree than anyone I have ever met in my life.

      Although I would generally agree with our conclusion. Even though I only have a degree in Post Hole Digging.

  9. Professor Foland says:

    I’m not registered with WaPo, so I can’t read the crucial paragraphs. So the following may be a little off base.

    But normally if you learn something in a classified meeting under one aegis, and then months later you go to work for someone else, you had better not be blabbing away about what you learned to the new boss. The only exception I can imagine is if the new boss is the President.

    If the aide knew about waterboarding from time when working for Harman, and wanted to tell Pelosi, I imagine he’d have to go back to CIA to get permission to tell Pelosi. This would 100% be the case under a normal classified information situation. I suppose it’s possible that there are special exceptions for the Minority Leader, but I doubt it. If the aide simply told Pelosi, he’d nominally be mishandling classified information.

  10. MadDog says:

    And also from yesterday’s Chicago Sun-Times:

    Dateline — The dog house at the White House? Sneed hears White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel spent most of a dinner fingerpointing while lecturing new CIA Director Leon Panetta at an eatery called Hook in Washington, D.C.

    • • To wit: “They were seated alone . . . and all Panetta could do was eat — literally shoveling it in — as Rahm spoke at him,” a Sneed source said. “Staff and security kept fellow diners at bay, but it was clear that it was not a ‘pleasant’ conversation.”

    • • Hmmm. Is it because morale at the CIA is said to be at an all-time low because of the controversy surrounding the possible investigation of interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration? Is it because the White House reportedly is concerned that Panetta — who replaced a very popular military CIA director — is not effectively managing the transition well at the agency? Just asking.

    And with that I must take my leave until later today. After all, today is Minnesota’s Fishing Opener!

    The big one clearly is waiting for me!

    TTFN!

    • fatster says:

      Many thanks for this, MadDog. Panetta’s behavior is baffling, so there’s some comfort in thinking that Banty-Rooster Rahm is running roughshod over him. Just ’some’, though.

      Hope you catch the biggest one!

  11. drational says:

    altho waterboarding is not the only EIT that could be considered torture, it is the one where CIA was clearly acting outside OLC boundaries. In essence it was used as an enhanced-enhanced Interrogation technique, so whomever permitted that excess has a liability tail.
    .
    .
    .
    bmaz will accuse me of 10D chess, but I am starting to wonder if it is at all possible that this CIA list was not written to “get Pelosi”?

    It seems to deliberately segregate the waterboarding meetings, and is essentially exculpatory of all the leading dems on waterboarding knowledge. Did Rockefeller’s staffer have clearance to discuss his briefing with Rockefeller, or did Rockefeller have to get it from the CIA “later”?

    The reason I wonder is that making documents like this can do 2 things:

    1. Stir up Pelosi/Harman/Rockefeller to DEFEND themselves.
    2. Implicates Pelosi/Harman/Rockefeller to make other people want to investigate them.

    The endpoint of both of these outcomes is continued presence of the story in the news, and calls for independent investigations….

    If it is Cheneyites or Goss and the Gosslings driving the leaks, it seems very counterproductive to burying the past. To the point of stupidity.

    So I am wondering if these leaks are coming from someone who really wants to clean house…..

  12. radiofreewill says:

    The Bush Torture Cabal has one, huge, generalized problem:

    In Bush’s Secret UE World – he used Secret OLC Memos to ‘re-interpret’ – or as EW would say, Pixie Dust – the meanings of key Statutorily Established terms – like cruel and inhuman, or ‘minimization,’ for instance, among many others.

    So, on his own, according to his ‘inherent’ Powers as the UE, Bush declared – again, in Secret – that His Word trumped Statutory Law.

    Which sets-up the bizarre situation of Secret BushWorld – Where Bush’s Word was Law – operating Above the Law in ConstitutionLand – and Not Telling Congress or the Courts.

    A lot of leeway can be given to a President, acting as Commander-in-Chief, during a time of War and National Emergency. A whole lot of leeway.

    But – Secretly Twisting the Facts (Statutory Laws) to Fit an Ideology that Claims to be Above the Law – Breaking the Law (by Secretly Manipulating the ‘meanings’ of Words) to ’save’ the Law – Torturing in Secret, Secretly Calling it Legal, while telling everyone else that he was ‘in compliance’ with the ‘principles’ of Statutory Law – is Nothing Short of Criminal Deception in the Service of Treason against Our Constitution – the Secret Overthrow of Principle for Ideology – a Disguised Reversion to Despotic Kingship.

    Torturing and saying, “It’s not Torture by my definition, and my definition is the only one that counts in my Secret World” – that’s the Mindset of Tyrants everywhere, throughout all time.

    So, are We going to accept the “Twisting” of Words – as Joe Wilson so aptly put it – by Bush to Deceive US into Believing that he was Doing the Right Thing – in Our Name – when he was Secretly – on his own authority as the UE – having other Human Beings Tortured, some of whom have Died in Bush’s Captivity?

    So, the Bush Torture Cabal’s big, generalized problem is: They are Only Innocent in the Secret World of Bush’s Twisted ‘Facts.’

    Our here, with the Rest of US – Statutorily – they’re Torturers and War Criminals.

  13. wavpeac says:

    Well, now I understand Pelosi’s affect when she was answering questions about impeachment and stating so strongly “impeach for what…we have no evidence of crimes”. This became the strategy. They felt if they could not win, they would use the fact that they were not properly briefed as cover. I just felt it was “strategy” but I couldn’t figure out how it made any sense at all.

    One last comment. I challenge any human being on these blogs or otherwise to “effectively” cope with, deal with and “live with” the behavior of this cabal. I believe that just like living with an alcoholic has an impact on those who surround them…so did this criminal enterprise alter the “perspective” for those surrounding them. The disease is contagious.

    Authoritarian personalities, criminals of this level of success, power and stature are notoriously difficult to “confront”. They will go to almost superhuman lengths to cover their behavior and to create their lies. The concept of enabling is not a black and white line of demarcation.

    I was appalled when Pelosi took impeachment off the table, however, in the back of my head, having the examples of every day families, human beings coping with the disease of alcoholism, drug addiction and domestic violence, it did not fit with my knowledge of the human spirit that congress would be automatically effective simply by confronting them. This president, this vice president, this group of criminals would impact not only those they perpetrated against but every single human being around them. This behavior has a way of making those around them crazy.

    I am not trying to excuse congress or Pelosi…but I really think that we are naive about how this works from a systemic perspective. It corrupts the whole system.

    What is the “right” way to respond to criminals of this magnitude? When cornered I believe that bush/cheney would have been extremely dangerous. The more the evidence comes out, the more it validates the danger in confronting these people while they were in power.

    It is a true dilemma and not simple. We deal with it every day in domestic violence cases. Yes, we have a duty to report when children or spouses are in danger but what is the effect of this, without a system that absolutely protects the victims? It’s not simple, it’s not black and white. No police officer will arrest a “potentially” violent man, or a man who beat his wife three weeks ago, because she says it happened. It becomes a very difficult balance between truth, justice and safety.

    Truth commission…yes, we must learn as much as we can about what really happened…and for now…the most effective stance might be a nonjudgmental stance. All the emotion of anger, finger pointing only obscures the truth. Just keep pushing for continued truth…but try not to get hung up yet, in who was guilty along the path. It will all come out.

    My experience here tells me that reactions to bushco might be very complex. We have before us a great opportunity to learn about ourselves as a nation…not just to learn about “the bad guys”. My guess is that when all is said and done, we will have learned some important truths.

    • bobschacht says:

      Well, now I understand Pelosi’s affect when she was answering questions about impeachment and stating so strongly “impeach for what…we have no evidence of crimes”. This became the strategy. They felt if they could not win, they would use the fact that they were not properly briefed as cover. I just felt it was “strategy” but I couldn’t figure out how it made any sense at all.

      One last comment. I challenge any human being on these blogs or otherwise to “effectively” cope with, deal with and “live with” the behavior of this cabal. . . .

      I think what tends to be forgotten here is that our founding fathers were men of political experience. They were dealing with a tyrant. They were not naive. They designed a Constitution meant to deal with people just like George Bush and Dick Cheney.

      But Bush & Cheney basically engaged in a game of chicken with Pelosi, and she was too fearful to use the powers that the Constitution gave her. She was always afraid about losing, and she let her fears control her. And she made her own Faustian bargain: Take impeachment and inherent contempt off the table, fight for a few liberal bagatelles branded as “important issues”, and position yourself to be not as bad as the Republicans.

      She could have fought, but she chose to accommodate. She had no confidence in the process of impeachment and did not understand how to use it. So, in effect, she joined with Bush in deriding the Constitution as just another irrelevant piece of paper. Wavpeac, I accept your challenge: the framers of our Constitution understood tyrants and cabals. They had studied history, and had contemporary experience with a tyrant. They designed a system to defeat such cabals. Only one thing was required: That the people use the tools provided in it.

      I still lean towards the view that Pelosi had her Moment of Truth, and backed away in fear. To be fair, she was not alone: she was surrounded by scaredy cat DEms. But she failed her test of leadership. She allowed the Republican impeachment of Clinton to be her model, rather than Watergate. So the Republicans failed to remove Clinton, but in doing so they triumphed in giving impeachment a bad name, thus paving the way for Bush and Cheney.

      Bob in HI

      • bmaz says:

        …the framers of our Constitution understood tyrants and cabals. They had studied history, and had contemporary experience with a tyrant. They designed a system to defeat such cabals. Only one thing was required: That the people use the tools provided in it.

        There you go. Said exactly right.

      • Leen says:

        Damn Bob some truth telling there

        Kassandra really interesting insights. so do you really think there is a Harman/Feinstein tag team going after Pelosi? Hanging Pelosi out.

        Jane “this conversation did not happen” Harman’s issue has sure been swept under the rug. Odd that a congresswomans taped phone calls saying that she would be willing to interfere in a Federal investigation and trial would still be in the spotlight. But hell the Aipac Rosen espionage trial was barely whispered about in the MSM. Well Rachel maddow recently made a mockery of it, and Daniel Schorr called the investigation and trial a “brouhaha”

        Think Harman is loving the spotlight on Pelosi instead of her “completed crimes”?

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Awesome comment.
      And I’m finally recognizing the significance of this:

      …yes, we must learn as much as we can about what really happened…and for now…the most effective stance might be a nonjudgmental stance. All the emotion of anger, finger pointing only obscures the truth. Just keep pushing for continued truth…but try not to get hung up yet, in who was guilty along the path. It will all come out.

      My experience here tells me that reactions to bushco might be very complex. We have before us a great opportunity to learn about ourselves as a nation…not just to learn about “the bad guys”. My guess is that when all is said and done, we will have learned some important truths.

      Between communications shifts, economic shifts, social shifts, etc, we’re in uncharted territory.

      I’ve had to deal with several people through the years who were so intense in their beliefs that it was as if they created their own gravitational forces, which then affected organizations.

      In several cases, these people were insightful, tough, smart, honest, and revitalized divisions (and organizations) because of their commitment to excellence.

      In several other cases, people were like black holes that sucked others into terrible dynamics and dreadful decisions — subtly, often with flattery, and pleasant conduct because they wanted something. Scary, scary people!

      I don’t think we’re used to this level of deceptive, really amoral conduct unstopped for so many consecutive years. Looking at the way they built the war frenzy, it’s a safe guess that they planned this back in Bush I — which helps explain their attempted destruction of Bill and Hillary Clinton, who it appears they will never, ever forgive. Nor Gore.

      I hope that I live long enough to find out whether my hunch, that the uniformed military finally stopped them, proves accurate.

      But this is a new kind of threat.
      We need to understand what happened here much better; it’s still continuing in the darker recesses.

  14. KayInMaine says:

    I wonder what Denny Hastert, Speaker of the House back then, knew about the torture techniques? I wonder if he did anything to stop these crimes?

    • freepatriot says:

      I wonder what Denny Hastert, Speaker of the House back then, knew about the torture techniques? I wonder if he did anything to stop these crimes?

      I want to see Bob Graham’s notebooks

      he was one of the people who was briefed, early on, right ??? (yep, so says JohnEly, right up there in his last paragraph, see it, right above Pat Roberts)

      and he kept notes on EVERYTHING (including bowel movements, his own, hopefully)

      wanna bet Bob Graham’s note books got an “18 minute gap” ???

  15. foothillsmike says:

    Not sure why all of the discussion centers around waterboarding which is indeed torture but so is extended use of stress positions, hanging people for days, putting people in plastic bags to the point of death etc.

    • KayInMaine says:

      I was watching a show late last night called “Mysterious Journeys” and it had an old American prison featured. The techniques used on the prisoners to keep them quiet (literally….there was to be not talking or noise in this prison!)….same as the ones used BY THE BUSH REGIME, with the exception of tying a blade across the mouth and to the hands….slowly cutting the tongue off. Anyway, stress positions, typing people to chairs for 3 weeks or so (causing some to lose their legs or they were crippled from being tied in this position for so long!), solitary confinement, hanging people from their arms & pouring water onto their faces was their punishment….I mean really, the Bush Regime had it’s childhood fantasies and they sure as hell implemented them when they had control of the White House, the Senate, and the House for quite a few years!

  16. SanderO says:

    The entire interrogation process wreaks of wrong doing and probably criminality. But that’s what the CIA does – it gathers information (or manufactures it). They don’t want light over there because it’s very nasty stuff what they do, and have been doing for decades. So it all gets “top secret” cover from the media and the people.

    A bit of a crack has now posed the dilemma… do we want to see inside and reveal the real CIA? I do, but those who benefit and get off on james bond rubbish don’t. It’s pretty much out side the law ain’t it, despite their saying it’s not.

    • radiofreewill says:

      SanderO – I can see what you’re saying, but I think it’s possible to slice into Bush’s Torture from a different angle – letting the Spooks be Spooks, as structured in Our Laws – but, at the same time, excising out the ‘politicization’ of the Dark Side.

      A big part of what the 19 Intelligence Agencies do, believe it or not, is Watch Each Other. They have elaborate protocols that define ‘fair-play’ in their shadowy world.

      But, what Bush and Cheney did that Crossed the Line with the CIA is that Bush, along with his Henchpeople, crafted a Policy of Torture that sought to evade all protocols, formal and informal – except Unquestioning Loyalty to Bush – behind the Cloak of UE-designated Compartmentalized Secrecy.

      Bush and his ‘architects’ for that Policy of Torture went way out of bounds, in Bad Faith, by not informing Congress or the Courts, that Bush was going-to/had-already Waterboarded Zubaydah, and was establishing a Secret Infrastructure of Systematic Torture that would turn entirely on Bush’s Secret, Subjective, Never-Reversed designation of ‘enemy combatant’ status.

      So, I agree with you that we could pull the curtain back, so to speak, on the CIA, and most of US would probably recoil at the Brutal Seriousness of what we see – but Spook World is not for the faint of heart, and it is a neccessary component to Our National Security – but, within their ranks, there is Genuine Honor in the Professional Clandestine Service of the United States.

      We want to keep those good guys and gals – with their culture of Honor and Patriotism – well-supported, intelligently protocoled for their own protection and Ours, and on the front lines of Our Defense.

      Rather, what We want to do, imvho, is Remove the Dis-Honorable Policy-Maker Influences who would Use and Abuse Covert Activities to Circumvent Statutory Law, Congressional Over-Sight and Judicial Review – in the name of Advancing their Shameless Ideological Agenda without regard to Fair-Play – in Bad Faith, even.

      When the obfuscating mist of Bush’s carefully crafted deceptions lifts – undoubtedly thanks in good measure to the tireless work of EW and FDL – it’s going to be Obvious that Bush is like the Big Money Gambler at the Poker Table, who gets Called-Out for Cheating by the Rest of the Players.

      Get rid of Bush, then everyone can get back to the table, and playing out their hands, according the established and long-agreed-to ‘rules.’

  17. STTPinOhio says:

    I am always thankful for people here who are willing to take the time to wade into the minutiae that surrounds this issue.

    This is important because it corners the torture apologists into taking ever more ridiculous positions in attempting to save their own sorry asses.

    However, as Jonathan Turley points out almost daily, it’s really simple.

    And it doesn’t matter what Pelosi knew and when she knew it. That’s just a ‘Look, over there!’ magicians trick of the dead ender neocons.

    Besides, if she is found truly complicit, she should be held accountable as well.

    Torture is wrong, it is illegal, and it isn’t left up to POTUS to decide whether or not to investigate this issue.

    In fact, if they don’t investigate given the overwhelming evidence that war crimes may have been committed, a strong case could be made for obstruction.

    Because of this, there will be an investigation.

    Our job will be to demand it doesn’t become a 9/11 commission style whitewash, you know, the infamous “Mistakes Were Made” type bullshit.

  18. ThingsComeUndone says:

    This is either an incredibly crappy and logically false article–or either Harman or DiFi is out to prove that Pelosi learned about waterboarding via non-CIA means before it became public in 2004-2006.

    Or both.

    What would Harman or DiFi have to gain?

    • Dalybean says:

      Pelosi and Harman are opponents. Pelosi is trying to block on some issues near and dear to Jane Harman. There is also the matter of revenge for Pelosi not appointing Harman Intelligence chair.

      • ThingsComeUndone says:

        Thanks I thought Harman was in enough trouble with that phone call to the lobbyist most people in trouble have enough sense not to pick another fight.
        Or are we missing something?

  19. EternalVigilance says:

    Let’s also not forget that, even above and beyond the WaPo’s desire to have access to power (that’s why they were the first major national paper to endorse Obama), the Post’s number one job is to make sure the Post’s involvement in promoting war and war crimes is never the story.

    As long as both sides are furiously sniping about each other, the Post will have sources who want to talk, Beltway readers who want to read the latest gossip, and the real business-government-media power structure is safely protected from a public who just the other day were demanding investigations and prosecutions.

    It’s not like the D’s complicity in war crimes and war isn’t a story. The giveaway that the media is just a shill in the big national con game is that the media never take the obvious next step of explaining how these stories are used as a distraction – they just hype the distraction.

    But that’s OK. I’m sure with the WaPo’s help the public will be able to correctly bet which card is the perp in the next round of find-the-scandal.

  20. foothillsmike says:

    How do the laws regarding “classified information” impact what it was possible to do by those who were informed? I recall a story about Rockefeller handwriting a letter of opposition and hand delivering it. Wouldn’t this have made hearings and public outcry impossible?

  21. phred says:

    Just popping in, so I need to read through the thread yet… But what baffles me with the MSM coverage of this document is that a) we already knew Pelosi was briefed in the fall of 2002, and b) there are 7 briefings out of the 40 in their list for which the “Briefers” (last column in the doc that list who DID the briefing, e;g., NCS, OCA, CTC, etc.) that are listed as “Not Available”. So if the MSM is in such a tizzy to figure out who knew what when, why aren’t they the teensiest bit curious about those mystery briefings? Are these reporters too stupid to know they are being played or are they happy to pitch in and do their part to play Whack-A-Dem?

    Here’s the list of Mystery Briefings:

    1) 3/7/05 Roberts and Rockefeller (staffers Duhnke and Johnson)

    2) 3/8/05 Roberts, Rockefeller, Goss, and Harman (note this is the one where Goss is head of CIA, not on HPSCI, so the whole thing is questionable, h/t WO, and there are no staffers listed)

    3) 10/18/05 Ted Stevens and Thad Cochran (no staffers listed)

    4) Late Oct. ‘05 John McCain (no staffers)

    5) 11/1/05 Bill Frist (staffer Mark Esper)

    6) 11/8/05 Duncan Hunter (no staffers listed)

    7) 9/19/06 Bill Young and John Murtha* (staffer: Paul Juola), the * notes that Murtha “did not stay for EIT portion of the briefing”

    Four of these seven briefings were given exclusively to Republicans. Why is that?

    If the CIA document has been compiled from CIA records and recollections, how could the Briefers possibly be unknown? If they are really unknown, then they wouldn’t have a record or a recollection of the briefing in the first place (much less a date and a subject of the briefing). So that suggests those Briefers are known, but “Not Avaiable” in this instance must mean “We’re not telling”. If you were a crack reporter wouldn’t you want to know why not? Wouldn’t the first thing to jump out at you from a cursory glance at the document, that there is something really really odd about those Not Available Briefer meetings? And why during this period of time when they went out of their way to brief Congress members who were not on the Intelligence committees, did they not also brief the Dem equivalents to the Reps listed here?

    This is the most curious part of the whole document, and yet all we are hearing about from the MSM is the Pelosi briefing in 2002. At this point, that briefing is not evenly remotely new or particularly informative. Yet not a single solitary peep about 7 mystery briefings. Color me puzzled.

  22. klynn says:

    EW @ 24

    I don’t think it’s a question of any news outlet being the mouthpiece for one branch of govt. Rather, I think it’s a general credulity for anonymous sources.

    Which can allow for controlling the message by many different parties without our nation’s safety at heart.

  23. WilliamOckham says:

    I would caution folks that it is a serious mistake to think of the current pr campaign as an effort of the ”CIA”. There is within the clandestine world (crossing institutional boundaries of the CIA, DOD, etc.) a faction committed to the notion that the rule of law doesn’t apply to them. They have a deeply engrained belief that the political elites use them and sacrifice them to save the elites own skin. Cheney has always been their patron. Cheney and Tenet convinced them that the whole establishment was supportive of every illegal act. This faction now feels betrayed and is trying desperately to ”get” the Dems. Cheney’s evil genius was in telling both sides what they wanted to hear while keeping the true story buried. Now, by pitting them against the each other, Cheney is avoiding scrutiny of the most critical issues. We should be asking nobody in Congress was notified of this covert action for nearly a year while a clearly illegal policy was developed and executed.

    • klynn says:

      I would caution folks that it is a serious mistake to think of the current pr campaign as an effort of the ”CIA”. There is within the clandestine world (crossing institutional boundaries of the CIA, DOD, etc.) a faction committed to the notion that the rule of law doesn’t apply to them. They have a deeply engrained belief that the political elites use them and sacrifice them to save the elites own skin.

      (my emphasis)

      Let me add a third possible prong to this observation:

      Now imagine being a foreign power, criminal power or a combination of both, wanting to infiltrate the highest halls of power in this country. You tap this power river and ride it into the highest offices in the country, the most powerful lobbies in the country, and you take the country down. All the while “appearing” within the context of the law; pinning political factions against each other and feeding the people messages that feed the divisiveness, the fears and the complacency. It’s a smoke and mirrors, slight of hand, alcoholic-like manipulation of the rivers of power, that in the end, leave the people raped of their national wealth, suddenly meaningless laws and politically powerless nationally and globally due to losing human rights principles. And no one is looking for the currents underneath the surface of the river that caused the turmoil, just at the power brokers on the surface.

      As my son-of-klynn would say, “We’re being punked. It’s that simple.”

      And the media is the easiest to punk.

      But not EW.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Cheney’s evil genius was in telling both sides what they wanted to hear while keeping the true story buried. Now, by pitting them against the each other, Cheney is avoiding scrutiny of the most critical issues.

      Wise.
      An additional aspect of his evil genius is his grasp of black budgets and outsourcing.

  24. Kassandra says:

    They’re going after Pelosi in a a big way. I wonder if this has anything to do with Emanuel’s eventual desire to be Speaker?

    I’m open to the possibility that Pelosi knew about this stuff, but I cannot figure out what they thought she was supposed to DO about it. She wasn’t speaker then and the Rethugs put the Dems in the basement when they wanted to have committee meeting without electricity to their mics

    Just a hunch, but I bet the Secret Service would have taken a dim view of ol’ Nancy trying to tackle Cheney!

  25. GregB says:

    I don’t think this point can be emphasized enough. There are small anti-democratic elements in every society.

    The DOD and the CIA is peopled with Americans who believe in the American ideal, but there is a small rumpist faction that would love to run America like Pinochet ran Chile.

    It’s in their blood.

    -G

  26. Margaret says:

    None of this matters. Sure, maybe Pelosi lied about being briefed and maybe she didn’t. Nothing in those memos shows anything conclusive and trust me, I’m no Pelosi fan. We are talking about fucking torture. TORTURE is a WAR CRIME, lying to Rachel Maddow is not. It is almost immaterial even if she was fully informed about the policy of torturing people. Completely. And the argument that they seem to be making is that she knew and said nothing and is so totally specious. Divulging classified information is frowned upon and in fact, is called treason. This isn’t about Pelosi or Harman or Hoyer or any of the other people that may have been briefed. It’s about the Bushies TORTURING people. Stop ceding the narrative to the people who want us to be distracted by bullshit.

  27. TheraP says:

    I haven’t read through the thread yet. Apologies for that. I’m just starting to read. But it seems clear to me, from what I’ve skimmed, that many of us have been considering the leaks and the theories that Dems are just as culpable. And I spent several hours this morning, putting together a post that speaks to that, speaks to whether I, or you, or Dem leaders might have done more. Whether we may have overlooked or failed to question deeply enough. I’ve posted it over at TPM (where I’m more familiar with the software) and I might try to put it up at Oxdown later, but it has a lot of links and would require a huge effort all over again – instead of doing the reading I feel I should do.

    So, take a look at what I’ve written, if you’d like to. Since it does partly play into what’s being discussed on this thread. I may also put up some quotes in a later comment here, which back up what EW reminds us, which is that ABSOLUTELY torture is not just waterboarding. It involves a total manipulation of a person’s environment in an effort to disrupt and fragment their personality. Deprivation of sleep, forced nudity, constant blaring noise, total darkness or bright lights, cold, lack of sufficient caloric intake. That’s already torture. Add stress positions and shackling and you’ve got really bad torture right there. Waterboarding is like the coup de grace (if you just would let them die).

    • Margaret says:

      I’m comfortable with my own behavior. I never voted for Bush, (for Governor or President), and I am what I call, a proud Ten Percenter. I was one of the ten percent of the people who still disspproved of Bush on 9/12/2001 just as much as I did on 9/10/2001. I never bought into the whole “tower implosion” thing because the science is wrong but I still consider the possibility that it didn’t happen as it has been described to us. Leaving that aside, I knew Bush was lying when he tried to blame Iraq, I knew he was lying about WMD and I knew it was bullshit when we were told unequivically that we weren’t torturing people.
      I protested, I made noise, and I didn’t endear myself to most people who would just rather it all go away. I was ridiculed, badmouthed, called all sorts of names and I still complained. All of this occured prior to 2004 and nobody listened. I was dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. All of this, the WMD, the nonexistant link between Saddam Hussein and bin Laden, the illegal wiretapping, the torture, all of the abuses that occured are all down to the neocon philosophy and it was doomed to fail and to take us down with it.
      How did I know it was all bullshit? I can READ. And it was just that simple. I feel good about my role because though I didn’t get rendered and tortured myself protesting these things, I was at the very least INFORMED about what was going on so people like Judy Miller and David Gregory or even Colin Powell couldn’t lie to me credibly. Anybody who bought into that “reasoning” was, I’m sorry to say, inexcusably uninformed and overly credulous.
      Sometimes I think that the “tower implosion” theory was created by the Bushies in order to discredit any accusation of complicity in war crimes and unilateral aggression as tin foil hat wearing, Alex Jones fans. What it effectively did was just that and I was accused of wearing just such a hat when I told people they could be wiretapped or that we were committing torture.

      • TheraP says:

        Margaret, I pretty much did the same as you describe. I am in no way accusing you (or anyone here). I hope you understand that. I thought your comment @ 52 was right on target. And I completely agree the focus must be on the ones who, in my view, conspired to sanction torture and commit treason. While some Dem leaders may not have done enough, I simply don’t see evidence they conspired with the bush criminals. Nor did you or I. We must bring the war criminals to justice.

  28. orionATL says:

    for a broad political view of this situation, margaret’s comment @52 says it all – and concisely.

    in my view, whether pelosi was or was not briefed is immaterial. she did not authorize torture. george bush and dick cheney and rumsfeld and tenet did authorize it and ADMINISTER and SUPERVISE it at guantanamo, at abu grahib, and at baghram af base for sure (and most likely at the “black sites”).

    thus, this game of “what did pelosi know and when did she know it” is nothing more than the cia and the bush admin godfathers playing games in the press – games intended ass red herrings, shiny-objects, distractions, “hey, look over there”’s.

    as does reader of tea-leaves @11, i am inclined to believe the boys at cia are overplaying their hand.

    after all this keeps the issue of torture before the public for a longer time. and it requires the public to consider credible CIA and republican party operatives. i don’t think these arrogant bastards understand how little credibility they have.

    in any event, the attacks on harman and pelosi are just the latest in a string of cia behavior that confirms my belief that the cia should be completely disbanded – COMPLETELY DISBANDED- and reconstituted, with strict legal and policy limits, possibly involving a constitutional amendment. this goes as well for the fbi and the nsa.

    these three – cia, fbi, national security agency, along with the whitehouse (any whitehouse, potentially) are the greatest threat to the liberties of individual americans set forth in the bill of rights as exist in our society.

    • TheraP says:

      My view of it is that the Dem leaders did not conspire to commit treason. And the bush criminals did!

      Treason, in my view, is the heart of the matter. And torture is the issue that pries open Pandora’s Box of Treason.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Assuming, of course, that the WaPo isn’t just doing a hit job on the House Leader to promote its own agenda.

    Giving the key, non-documentary source anonymity to accuse the House Leader of having known details of Bush’s torture regime seems, um, rather unjournalistic of the WaPoo. It doesn’t allow readers to assess the source’s credibility, or the logic or credibility of the journalist. Still less does it enable the reader to assess what the House Leader might have known when she knew it.

    This sort of work gives propaganda a good name.

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Well, no, the narrative of the cover-up can be as egregious as the underlying crime, and implicate far more people in it. Several figures may have been involved in orchestrating torture from the very top. Now we have dozens actively covering it up with lies, faulty logic, misdirection, acquiescence and, now, outright acceptance and advocacy.

    Those are two different tales and both need to be told. Outing and fixing one won’t correct the other and vice versa.

  31. CalGeorge says:

    Pelosi took impeachment off the table. She took impeachment out of the Constitution.

    She refused to stop funding the Iraq war, claiming that it was necessary to support the troops. “We will not cut off funding for the troops. Absolutely not.” And: “The president knows that because the troops are in harm’s way, that we won’t cut off the resources. That’s why he’s moving so quickly to put them in harm’s way.” And: “We have provided every penny that is currently necessary to fund Defense Department operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.”

    She refused to object to torture, blaming her refusal on the fact that her hands were tied, after lying about the fact that she had been briefed on waterboarding.

    She supported the Gaza war and passed a resolution blaming the attacks on the Palestinians.

    Nancy Pelosi is not getting my respect or my benefit-of-the-doubt any time soon.

    Her hands are permanently tied by the status quo.

  32. freepatriot says:

    and then it all went BAD for the repuglitards

    a christian preacher finally put two and two together:

    It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Conservative Christians tend to be conspicuously pious, loudly proclaiming themselves moral, righteous, just. Yet, their support for torture — even against an avowed enemy, even in times of peril — seems oddly out of step with the radical gospel of a carpenter who preached peace, forgiveness and mercy: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    Many evangelical Christians, black, white and brown, are Biblical literalists, insisting that homosexuality is a sin and evolution is heresy because the Bible says so. That same Bible introduces a simple teacher who instructed his followers to turn the other cheek, to repay cruelty with kindness, to disregard their personal safety. Yes, we may be forgiven for being afraid, but fear cannot justify inhumanity to others. How does that jibe with support for barbaric treatment of detainees?

    memo to America:

    if you support torture, and still claim to be a “Christian” nation, don’t be surprised when the civilized world LAUGHS IN YOUR FACE

    I thought we’d have to wait for the video tape for Americans to SNAP THE FUCK OUT OF IT …

    looks like this preacher is ahead of the curve

    do the repuglitards know that they’re defending CHILD RAPE ???

    yeah

    that was one of george an dick’s torture tricks

    MAY 28th, GAME OVER

  33. CalGeorge says:

    Who initiates a secret briefings?

    The C.I.A.? The Intelligence Committee?

    Could Pelosi have requested additional briefings?

  34. frankly0 says:

    EW,

    I’m not quite following your entire argument here, though it may certainly be due to my own ignorance of the issues.

    While I agree with you that the CIA briefings respectively of the Senate leaders in Feb 2003 and of the House leaders a day or two apart might have in principle been covering different points, is it any kind of real leap to believe that they were not, and were fundamentally the same? Why would there possibly be different basic material covered? Wouldn’t the standard procedure be to cover identical material?

    You’re of course right that one wants hard documentation for such facts, and not mere invocations of presumed standard procedure, given the stakes involved. And no doubt the WaPo has been deficient not to observe that logical gap.

    But do you have any reason to believe that such paired briefings would naturally have covered different material?

    Also, you said something puzzling at the end of your post:

    either Harman or DiFi is out to prove that Pelosi learned about waterboarding via non-CIA means before it became public in 2004-2006

    [my bolding]

    I guess I don’t understand what you’re saying here. Are you arguing that the facts as presented somehow might demonstrate that Pelosi learned about waterboarding from something other than the Feb 2003 CIA briefing which her aide attended? Are you suggesting that that briefing could not have covered waterboarding because it was not explicitly called out in the list as among the techniques discussed?

    I seem to be missing something here, but I’m not sure what. Again, pardon my ignorance — there are a lot of details here I haven’t yet entirely gotten straight, and I could be missing something essential.

    • freepatriot says:

      I could be missing something essential.

      I think the point that you’re missing is that torture, and waterboarding specifically, are crimes against humanity, in every civilized country on the planet

      and the guys who are smearing Pelosi are already known to have violate the law there

      so they got motive to lie

      plus, the whole episode smells of a planned blackmail scheme (and we know that bush was blackmailing Harmon, so it ain’t some crazy idea to suspect they were blackmailing others, and lying to the rest)

    • emptywheel says:

      Two points.

      First, why do I think it possible they got different briefings? For starters, at one briefing, there was just one Senator present, a Republican, whereas at the other, there was a Democrat present too. And if there was even the presumption on the part of the CIA that the briefings were the same, they would have the same language in the list. They don’t. This might mean a different person did the briefing (thus explaining the different language) or something else, but it opens up the possibility.

      As far as learning of waterboarding by non-CIA means, I don’t really know why Harman (most likely, if this is the case) woudl want that story out. Maybe bc she thinks Sheehy screwed her on something. Maybe bc she’s tired of Pelosi saying she didn’t know, when she did, I don’t know.

      I think it very likely that the WaPo asked Harman: Pelosi said she concurred with your objection to torture (or waterboarding). Why? [As I’ve pointed out, that’s not what Pelosi said.] To which Harman might have responded, “I don’t know–maybe SHeehy told her.” Which is why I say it might be a crappy article built on top of Harman story.

      The point being I don’t know–but I know WaPo doesn’t know the things it says it does via hte sources it does. I don’t know, whether it knows the things it SAYS it does.

  35. radiofreewill says:

    Bush Waterboarded Zubaydah – On his Own – Torture and a War Crime – in August ‘02.

    After the Fact, Bush may have told Select Members of Congress that he had Waterboarded.

    Waterboarded Zubaydah on his Own – May have told others Later.

    Torture and a War Crime First – May have told others Second.

    The Monster in this Story is Obvious.

  36. JohnEly says:

    Here’s how Joby Warrick at Washingon (Gone) Post (al) described the briefings in the context of the release of knowledge about the CIA tapes:

    Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002
    In Meetings, Spy Panels’ Chiefs Did Not Protest, Officials Say

    By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Sunday, December 9, 2007; A01

    In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

    Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

    “The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough,” said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

    Congressional leaders from both parties would later seize on waterboarding as a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism effort. The CIA last week admitted that videotape of an interrogation of one of the waterboarded detainees was destroyed in 2005 against the advice of Justice Department and White House officials, provoking allegations that its actions were illegal and the destruction was a coverup.

    Yet long before “waterboarding” entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.

    With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

    • LabDancer says:

      It would be interesting to read Warrick-&-Eggen’s efforts to reconcile that report with the briefing list:

      – “four members of Congress met in secret …. For more than an hour”

      This suggests either sources misled W&E or W&E misled us readers.

      – “given a virtual tour”

      This suggests the use of [presumably] visual media — a slide show or, more likely, a powerpoint presentation, depicting at least some of the ‘proposed’ [claims Pelosi] “techniques” — such as from:

      [a] recordings of actual use [inconsistent, utterly with what’s been described by Pelosi and logically with what’s been described by Goss],
      [b] recordings from the SERE program [seems unlikely given that even the tamed-down recordings we’ve seen on tv and of Hitchens come across with enough brutality to disturb],
      [c] faux re-enactment,
      or
      [d] cartoon-like drawings[I can see this last option being favored: Wile E. Coyote always seemed able to bounce back in a few frames.]

      – “of the CIA’s overseas detention sites”

      Like http://www.draculascastle.com? Picturesque from a distance.

      – “and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised … Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding”

      Present at the same time? The list says only 2 Congress critters were present at the same time. From what Pelosi has said, and Goss has backed up, it certainly couldn’t have been those two. So: Graham and Shelby? Shelby we can accept … but Graham?

      But does “officials” as used here necessarily equate to Congress critters? Were the WaPo ears listening with even that low hurdle of skepticism?

      Seems not.

      And if the “officials” were not Congress critters, and there’s no limit on when the comments were made, either as to location or time, then:

      What’s prevents the comments in question having been made by Gosslings?

      I think Warrick-&-Eggen owe us an answer.

    • emptywheel says:

      Right. Sources are “officials,” not “aides” or congressmen. Ergo, CIA. Ergo, trying to spin a story, one that does not even accord with CIA’s internal records. Ergo, not reliable.

  37. osage says:

    CONVINCING THE DUMBED-DOWN THAT WATERBOARDING IS ILLEGAL IS LIKE TRYING TO TEACH A LATTER DAY REPUBLICAN ABOUT EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OR ECOLOGY

    WATERBOARDING IS ILLEGAL

    http://lawreview.wustl.edu/sli…..s-illegal/

    1. Torture Act

    2. War Crimes Act

    3. Prohibition on Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of Persons Under Custody or Control of the United States Government

    4. Additional Prohibition on Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment

    “The United States has enacted statutes prohibiting torture and cruel or inhuman treatment. It is these statutes which make waterboarding illegal. The four principal statutes which Congress has adopted to implement the provisions of the foregoing treaties are the Torture Act, the War Crimes Act,and the laws entitled “Prohibition on Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of Persons Under Custody or Control of the United States Government” and “Additional Prohibition on Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.” The first two statutes are criminal laws while the latter two statutes extend civil rights to any person in the custody of the United States anywhere in the world.”

    • behindthefall says:

      This link from your post:

      http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpoi…..slings.php

      I like that. The only trouble is, 30 seconds after reading it, I won’t be able to keep those names in my head! Too many actors and actresses!

      I have been known to tack up 30 feet of butcher’s wrap in a corridor and cover it with circles and arrows to try to get an overview of a problem. Trying to winkle out the actors here seems about to put me in a similar situation.

      Has anyone used one of those graphing sites to build a graph of who worked for or with whom when, and who was appointed by whom, and who knifed whom and for what reasons, and so on? I’m thinking of the universe of U.S. government, military, and business.

      I wonder what would emerge from such a graph.

  38. TarheelDem says:

    Maybe I’m overly paranoid, but this reportage is beginning to smell. Who exactly are the reporters preparing these reports, and what is their record of credibility? A list, timeline of the progression of the coverage through media sources, whatever so that we know the players in this Kabuki.

    Hoekstra has an agenda. Whose besides his own is it?

    And here comes the paranoia. Why is it that Dick Cheney is suddenly so visible again? My suspicion is that he sees himself as a 2012 candidate. Yeah, I know, delusional. And he first has to rehabilitate himself by spreading the taint of torture far and wide. We already know that the media is complicit in his attempt to rehabilitate himself; they’re providing beaucoup air time, aren’t they Mr. Schieffer.

    Like I said. Paranoia.

  39. TheraP says:

    It seems indisputable – to me – that a criminal conspiracy to torture and to subvert the Constitution and Rule of Law, to a treasonous degree, existed at the highest levels of of the previous administration. Torture seems to be the linchpin around which is revolving the cracking open of this conspiracy. Others may have aided and abetted to one degree or another, particularly the toady lawyers who paved the road and the willing psychologists who went along as torture teachers and monitors, along with whomever in Congress or govt or consultants lent a hand.

    What also seems clear to me is the stepped up flurry of leaks and accusations and downright chest-beating by the treasonous torturers themselves. While I don’t excuse anyone who took part and while those who might have done much more as Dem leaders failed to do that, I nevertheless think our main focus has to be on the conspiracy to take over our Republic and turn it into despotism by another name, via being in a never-ending war and utilizing that “necessity” to spy on the citizens, blackmail leaders, and torture persons into giving “evidence” meant to pursue and continue the wars.

    Marcy’s terrific burst of posts of late has exposed the smoke meant to distract us and send us scurrying for cover. The smoke being the leaks, the accusations, and so on. To me the task is very clear. Use the issue of torture like a wedge to pry this whole conspiracy open. Marcy may yet do so – before an official investigation is even under way!

    Dear MacArthur Foundation:

    Please seriously consider my nomination of Marcy Wheeler to be among the recipients of your next group of MacArthur Fellows.

    Thank you kindly,

    TheraP, on behalf of Concerned Citizens of America

    • freepatriot says:

      what zactly is a “MacArthur Fellow” ???

      kinda like a “I shall Return” scholarship or somthin ???

      you wanna send Marcy to invade the Philippines, RIGHT NOW ???

      /intentional obtuseness

      • TheraP says:

        MacArthur Fellows are given 5 years tax-free money to spend their time as they will. The money is significant: $500,000. No kidding! They name just a few people a year. The Mac Arthur Foundation is located in Chicago. For their so-called “Genious Grants”:

        The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

        The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

        I’ve actually known a couple of people who received them. Long before they did, of course.

        The last time they named 25 individuals on Sept 23, 2008. It’s a very secretive process and usually the people named have no idea whatsoever that they are being considered.

        Truly, I think Marcy deserves one!

  40. frankly0 says:

    I have to say I’m a little baffled by what seems to be the assumption by many on this thread that Pelosi did not know that waterboarding had, in fact, been used back in, say, Feb 2003.

    Of course the Bush WH and leaders in the CIA would all have known about it from the earliest days of its use, and were criminal in allowing it. One can see an argument for them wanting to hide this from Democratic leadership. Yet one can also see an equally compelling argument for them wanting to make the Democratic leadership complicit in that criminality by having them briefed on it in a political context in which the fears of 9/11 still reigned supreme, tending to suppress any possibility of dissent.

    Certainly I can think of nothing about Pelosi’s general character that would incline me to believe that she would have spoken out against waterboarding had she known about it back in Feb 2003, when questioning the Bush WH tactics on anything related to national security could be depicted as weakness in confronting the terrorist enemy. I should think that Pelosi and other Dems in leadership have demonstrated amply their cowardice on such matters.

    Don’t let cynicism about Republicans in leadership become an obstacle to cynicism about Democrats in leadership.

    • freepatriot says:

      you mistake a lack of concern for a false position

      I don’t really CARE if Pelosi knew or not

      what she MAY OR MAY NOT have known about was TORTURE

      did Pelosi order the torture, no

      Pelosi is a side matter here

      don’t get lost in the forest cuz you can only see selected trees

      • frankly0 says:

        What your logic fails to acknowledge is what it would imply if the Democratic leadership knew early on about torture: that their complicity in it has everything to do with why they don’t want to pursue prosecution.

        If you want to see those involved in torture prosecuted for their crimes, and leading Dems knew about it and raised little or no protest over it, then you’re going to be obliged to attack them vehemently as well, not treat that complicity as some inconsequential fact.

        • phred says:

          You must be new here, since you appear to be oblivious to the fact that most of us have been bitching about the complicity of the Dem leadership in these parts for years. So I will try to not lose my temper with your perverse sanctimony.

          Our discussion over the past couple of days has been about a particular document and the evidence it does and does not contain. I for one think that briefings document is a (mostly) useless pile of crap from start to finish. That does not mean I don’t think Pelosi is a weasel. That is an entirely separate issue.

          If you are on a mission to bemoan what passes for Dem leadership these days you’ve got a lot of company (not just on this thread but on many others — go take a peek upstairs at bmaz’ post on Obama’s plan to reinstate Bush’s kangaroo court system). I would simply request that you not insult the rest of us while you go about it.

          • frankly0 says:

            I suggest you look at the comments on this thread that certainly seem to be going well beyond the assumption that the facts of those documents don’t really support the claim that Pelosi knew – it’s hard to see how the claims of a “smear” and other claims of conspiracy might stand if, in fact, Pelosi did indeed know about the torture early on, as Goss and other Republicans have claimed.

            And that’s exactly puzzled me: why did people seem to be making such an assumption, if they truly believed it to be an open question?

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          If you are really interested in accurately connecting dots, I highly recommend that you purchase a copy of “Anatomy of Deceit” by Marcy Wheeler.

          It has a stupendous series of Appendices, each of them devoted to a specific Timeline.

          In addition, there are links to some of her Timelines on the right column of this blog.

          Although Marcy’s book will not definitively answer your question(s) about Pelosi, it will make quite clear to you that the issues you raise about Pelosi are completely irrelevant for the Bigger Picture, and play right into the hands of those whose conduct has consistently shown that they do not have so much as a gnat’s regard for American’s system of laws and courts, its military heritage, economic stability, or legislative procedures.

          It’s been my observation that when commenters show a genuine interest in getting up-to-speed, others around here are very helpful with tips and pointers.

    • bmaz says:

      Quite frankly, I think you confuse an honest acknowledgment that there is not proof that Pelosi knew, with an acceptance as fact that she did not know. A careful reading, will exhibit the fallacy.

      • frankly0 says:

        I started my comment by saying:

        I have to say I’m a little baffled by what seems to be the assumption by many on this thread that Pelosi did not know that waterboarding had, in fact, been used back in, say, Feb 2003.

        what might have inclined me to say that?

        Well, I read this from freepatriot, for example,

        and the guys who are smearing Pelosi are already known to have violate the law there

        so they got motive to lie

        plus, the whole episode smells of a planned blackmail scheme (and we know that bush was blackmailing Harmon, so it ain’t some crazy idea to suspect they were blackmailing others, and lying to the rest)

        How can one claim that the Republicans are “smearing” Pelosi by claiming she knew about the torture, if, in fact, she did know about it (and perhaps the Republicans know full well that she knew about it, knowing things about the relevant briefings we don’t yet know)?

        I see this from TarheelDem:

        Maybe I’m overly paranoid, but this reportage is beginning to smell. Who exactly are the reporters preparing these reports, and what is their record of credibility? A list, timeline of the progression of the coverage through media sources, whatever so that we know the players in this Kabuki.

        Hoekstra has an agenda. Whose besides his own is it?

        It’s hard to see in this any openness to the possibility that Pelosi did indeed know about the torture early on. Indeed, the suggestion seems to be that even the reporters are involved in this conspiracy.

        And from NMVoiceofReason, we get,

        Gosslings have their knives out for Harman and Pelosi.

        Isn’t the presumption here that the accusations Goss has against Harman and Pelosi are false — which, I presume, come down to the claim that they both knew about the torture at an early date and raised no real protest?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The criticism of these smears of Pelosi is at least threefold:

          One, it redirects attention from the people who authorized and committed war crimes.

          Two, those perpetrators attempt to excuse or immunize themselves from liability for policies they implemented by implicating a leader of the opposition party. Throughout its tenure, the Bush administration frequently froze Dems out of congressional briefings or gave them different briefings or gave them briefings at a later date or only after or too shortly before hearings or legislation was passed pertaining to them. All in an effort to make it impossible to function as an opposition party or, frankly, as a co-equal legislative branch, while still implicating that branch and Democrats in actions it took.

          Three, if Democratic leaders were in fact fully and timely briefed about the commission of war crimes, then they are party to them. We’d be happy for them to join Cheney, Addington, Yoo, Bybee, Bradbury & Co., in the dock or before the Grand Jury. We’re an equal opportunity citizenry. As is true for the management of banks and manufacturing companies, there is lots of talent ready, willing and able to take its place. (Just look at the one certain and one probable Democratic challengers who will oppose Jane Harman in 2010.)

          • frankly0 says:

            But there you go again with the “smears of Pelosi” thing.

            How are they “smears” if, as it turns out, they are fully true — which you at least seem to be entertaining as a real possibility?

            I see the evidence as being inconclusive on the point. At least one thing I see in favor of the idea that Pelosi knew from the Feb 2003 briefing that waterboarding had been used is the question I raised to EW:

            If the Feb 2003 CIA briefing for Senate leaders clearly covered the actual use of waterboarding, and the CIA briefing for the House leadership was at essentially the same time and was certainly covering basically the same kind of material — the use of enhanced techniques — wouldn’t the natural presumption be that the CIA briefing for the House leadership would cover the actual use of waterboarding as well? Why would we expect them to be different?

            Now, maybe there’s a good answer to that question, but I don’t know what it is.

            Of course, in a court of law, the lack of clear documentation so far as to what was said in the Feb 2003 CIA briefing to the House leaders regarding waterboarding wouldn’t be proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Pelosi’s aide (and therefore, presumably, Pelosi) knew about the actual use of waterboarding. But it does strike me as pretty decent evidence — again, unless there’s some reason to believe the two briefings might have been quite different in what they covered.

            In any case, there seems a substantial likelihood (even if somewhat below 50%) Pelosi knew about the use of waterboarding.

            And I found reading many of the comments here hard to square with that real possibility.

            • phred says:

              How are they “smears” if, as it turns out, they are fully true

              You are just as bad as those you disparage. You begin your argument from the assumption that she knew.

              The use of the term “smear” is not inappropriate when the attacks are based on worthless documents with no corroborating information.

              The whole crux of the matter is that we in fact, do not know exactly who knew precisely what or when. What is known is that Abu Zubaydah was tortured without ANY prior notification of anyone in Congress.

              That is why we have so little patience for the sideshow you are obsessed with, it detracts from the far more substantive known facts at hand.

              1. BushCo knew torture would lead to false confessions
              2. Many people objected to the implementation of the torture regime and they were dismissed
              3. Prisoners were tortured prior to any notification of members of Congress

              The piece of crap briefings doc that you think is so very enlightening on what was told to whom and when, raises far more questions than it answers. Your presumption of guilt on the basis of this document, and worse the accompanying reporting of it, is unfounded.

            • WilliamOckham says:

              Let’s go over this one bit at a time. We start by recognizing that you and I have absolutely no direct knowledge of the truth of the proposition at hand, i.e. that Pelosi was told that the U.S. was waterboarding our enemies in 2002 or early 2003. Now, let me answer your questions:

              How are they “smears” if, as it turns out, they are fully true — which you at least seem to be entertaining as a real possibility?

              I’ll give but one example because it’s already happened. There were stories in the press that, without specifically naming Pelosi, claimed that all the Congressional leaders at the September 2002 briefing enthusiastically supported torture. Given that there’s no way to prove that or for Pelosi to conclusively disprove it, that’s a smear, no matter whether or not Pelosi was informed of waterboarding.

              Next, you say:

              If the Feb 2003 CIA briefing for Senate leaders clearly covered the actual use of waterboarding, and the CIA briefing for the House leadership was at essentially the same time and was certainly covering basically the same kind of material — the use of enhanced techniques — wouldn’t the natural presumption be that the CIA briefing for the House leadership would cover the actual use of waterboarding as well? Why would we expect them to be different?

              I bolded the part of your statement that is just flatly wrong, at least according to what the CIA document says. The descriptions of the briefings in Feb. 2003 are completely different and pretty specific, but they were done by the same briefers, NCS (covert operations), CTC (Counter Terrorism), and OGC (CIA lawyers). You may not be aware of this, but we know for a fact that the CIA has a record of at least one of these meetings. From the Vaughn index in the ACLU, et.al. FOIA case:

              This document is a two-page memorandum for the record summarizing a briefing to Congress on a particular set of issues. The document is dated February 4, 2003 and bears the classification TOP SECRET//SCI.

              Because the index is only a sample, it’s almost certain that both meetings are memorialized. Since the whole point of this exercise, from the POV of the CIA torturers, is to prove Pelosi knew about waterboarding, why wouldn’t the documents be more explicit about when she found out. I would argue the lack of specificity in this latest document from the CIA implies very strongly that Pelosi didn’t know. If they had proof, we’d have seen it by now.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Evidently, I’m less patient than phred on this thread.

              Suppose that a robber enters a bank, quietly pulls a gun on a teller, and gets half a million (in 100s, 50s, and 20s), then walks out the door. No gunfire, and no one but the teller, the alarm system, and the robber are aware of the heist at the time. Two windows away, a woman requests cash from a teller by handing over a check from her personal savings account. She leaves the bank with $250 cash in 20s and 50s on the heels of the gunman, completely oblivious of the heist.

              Two minutes later, both cars are stopped by the cops.
              The robber then claims that:

              1. He wasn’t the only one in the bank.
              2. Someone else also walked out with money!
              3. Someone else left the bank with 20s and 50s — just look! He can prove it — that lady has to show her money!
              4. He wasn’t the only one who spoke with a teller.
              5. He told the teller that he ‘wanted money’; didn’t that woman two windows over tell that other teller the very same thing?

              Want to bet that if the robber has a chance to hold that woman hostage, he’ll do it?

              It is true that two people can both appear ‘guilty’.
              It is not true that they both are.

              This is some kind of bizarro Political Attempt At Hostage Taking.

              Suggest you watch the assholes in the BushCheney cabal a bit harder; you wouldn’t want to be in the same place, at the same time, with any of them. Because they’d claim in a heartbeat that you pulled the heist if they thought it would get them off free.

              These people are evil.
              Wake up.

          • Leen says:

            Jonathon Landay said very similar things on what was it Olbermann’s, Rachels or Ed’s place? Get back to the two most important issues. Those who rewrote the torture laws, who tortured, and did this toruting really work ‘actionable inteligence”

            Also still not hearing about TORTURE CONTRACTORS. This sure seems to be off the table

        • emptywheel says:

          We know that Goss is trying to claim Nancy “knew or should have known” even when even his story is that they were not told this had already been done. So regardless of what they were told (that is, whether they were told CIA planned to waterboard or not), we know he’s trying to imply she was told more than she was. And Hoekstra’s going even further, even though he was never in a briefing with Pelosi. So while we do not know the facts, we know what the facts AREN’T (that CIA briefed that it had already occurred), and we know the implication that something else happened is false and therefore an attempt to imply something false about Pelosi.

        • freepatriot says:

          well, next time, instead of commenting, try shutting yer pie hole and watching how we figure stuff out

          Marcy is one of the greatest detectives you ever heard of. She does most of the work, an pays all of the bills (you did pay that liquor bill from the superbowl trash talk thread, right ???)

          Marcy can sort thru the bullshit like nobody you’ve ever seen before, and this is how she does what she do

          we got a lot of bit players here who help out,. Everybody plays their part. I’m the Blog’s Fool, sometimes bouncer, and resident asshole. So find another part

          we bounce questions off each other, post links to stuff we only partially realize is important, tear apart theories and rebuild them again. It’s not hard to fit in. But ya gotta stick with the program.

          so we can sit back to watch Marcy an a few other brainiacs to sort it out

          they ALWAYS DO

          give us time to show ya how this whole “best blogger on the planet” thingy happens

          an remember to be polite (I’m usually the only one around here who forgets that rule, you don’t want that …)

          DON’T FUCK WITH MY MUSE, PAL

          Welcome Aboard, new guy, an next time ya come, bring beer …

          (wink)

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Generously, excellently well phrased, sir ;-)))

            I’ll only add that in case ‘frankly0′ needs a reminder, in medieval courts the Jester, or ‘Fool’, was among the smartest people at court.

            Thinking of you — and Keith Olbermann — this Mother’s Day.
            You guys do your moms proud.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, the first problem with this is that WE KNOW BushCo didn’t brief on torture until after they had already done it–and when they did brief, they didn’t tell Congress they had already done it.

      So your “they want Congress to be complicit” simply doesn’t work; they acted to hide, not to make Congress (at least Dems) complicit.

      Second, the point here is NOT that I think Pelosi couldn’t have known (as I say in my post). It’s just that we have zero clear evidence she does. CIA is not saying they told her. CIA is not even saying they told Harman. So my point is just that we don’t have evidence that she does, so should not be asserting with certainty that she does.

  41. orionATL says:

    TheraP @ 77

    re: macarthur grant

    i had precisely the same thought a couple of weeks ago.

    second the nomination!

    • TheraP says:

      I placed it on several threads. All we can hope for is that someone who is one of their anonymous nominators comes here or someone knows someone who’s anonymous but just happens to mention this blog to them … or something. I know it’s a long shot. But then again…. If anyone deserves one, EW does. I am in awe of her ability to read and integrate and collate and analyze so much information. She leaves me in the dust all the time.

      So, folks, there’s nothing we can really do about this. But if we could, we would!

  42. orionATL says:

    Frankly0 @66 and ff

    “But do you have any reason to believe that such paired briefings would naturally have covered different material?”

    this is the kind of obtuse assumption/question that reporters, standard reporters, like to work from.

    could you be such an one?

    let me return a question: is there any reason to believe the cia might decide to mislead a particular legislator or legislators and therefore change the content of a briefing from another it had given?

    is it possible for example that the legislators on appropriations committees got different briefings from those on intell committees?
    (hint; the answer is yes)

    is it possible that the cia would have deliberately briefed republican differently from dem congressmen?

    is it possible that the cia would have an intent to deceive in briefing some members of congress?

    you entire critique seems to hang on a “no” answers to these q’s i have posed.

    put another way:

    there is every reason to distrust the cia and every reason that a cia intent on deception would have done two briefings of different congressmen using different content.

  43. radiofreewill says:

    Allright! It’s time for another round of “Think Like a Detective!”

    frankly0, come on down!

    Imagine that you’ve been on the case of a Murder, or similar other Heinous, Monsterous Crime. You’ve interviewed witnesses, analyzed the news reports and backgrounded the context of the incident.

    From all of this, you’ve developed the following onto a single page of your notebook:

    – A Named Suspect for the Murder with Motive, Means and Opportunity

    – Someone Who might have Heard – After the Fact – About the Murderer’s Deeds

    For 10 Points, what do you do next?

  44. dopeyo says:

    re: frankly0 & phred

    Well, you’re probably both right. Give it a few weeks, I’m sure someone (cough … Cheney…. cough) will come up with a document proving that Pelosi knew, approved and even volunteered to assist in waterboarding detainees.

    Which of course won’t prove anything. Except that they are using better forgers than the amateurs who cut and pasted the Niger documents.

    So forget what Pelosi knew and when she knew it. If we catch Bush / Cheney / Addington / Yoo / Bybee, I’ll accept that. If Pelosi is guilty, too, there’s plenty of time to get around to her. Bigger Fish and all that…..

  45. wavpeac says:

    My point is to agree with those here who suggest that focusing on Pelosi’s response to the illegal, pathology of this crew is to distract from what we really need to keep our eye on.

    In my opinion, and I have stated this before…focusing on Pelosi or the democratic response is just like focusing on the battered woman and suggesting that she is the problem. It’s no different in my opinion. What really works in the end is a coordinated community response that says that the violent behavior will not be tolerated by anyone. Focusing on what she did or didn’t do in response to the knowledge that they were torturing begs the most important question and it plays right into the hand of the perpetrators.

    Their job right now is to distract all of us from holding them accountable. It works really well because we humans allow ourselves to be manipulated this way. Does the victim in domestic violence share the same culpability for not reporting the behavior to the police or for not calling the police? Many would say yes, it her fault for not responding in an appropriate way to the violent behavior. My point is that this is easier said than done.

    We are instead calling our congress folks names, suspecting them to be inferior to ourselves, suggesting that we all would have stood up and done it better. In my humble opinion the issue is very similar to that of domestic violence. First we had to make an appeal to the public to convince them that in fact the behavior of domestic violence has consequences that are too expensive for us as a society to afford. We stopped listening to the violent spouse who said they had to hit or they had to use violence and we started taking a stand as a society that this behavior was not going to be tolerated. This made change occur.

    Focusing on Pelosi, or the dems reaction is part of the pathology. Minimize, deny and blame. The sociopath, the psychopath will, the authoritarian and the anti social will do anything to avoid accountability.

    My point is that this is not the time to engage in that discussion. We can deal with Pelosi later. Right now we have to focus on the crime at hand. We have to keep making it clear that as a society we will not tolerate the behavior…not for any reason, and not for any excuse.

    We must keep our focus on the true problem which is that our country was overtaken by a group of sociopaths who were violent, willful liars who have harmed the fabric of our country. We have been victimized by them. Pelosi could not enable if there was no crime to begin with. Let’s continue to focus on the crime at hand. We can discuss the enabling once we have nailed down the perpetrators.

    Whether she knew or not is irrelevant to the fact that they tortured, and this violates not only the laws of this country, but also the laws of the world.

  46. Loo Hoo. says:

    My question would be that if Pelosi did know about the torture and waterboarding, would she have been free to spill on it? What is the law with regard to members of the intelligence committee speaking out about what was covered? Who did she have authority to speak with besides the CIA briefers and the WH criminals?

    The other question is did she take impeachment off the table because she was afraid of what these criminals might have done in response? (To her personally or to the nation, ie Marshall Law)

  47. orionATL says:

    keeping things in context:

    please note,

    nary a SENATOR attacked; nary a SENATOR accused of anything,

    even of something as trivial as having been told by bad guys they (the bad guys) were doing some really baaad-assed things.

    why?

    why pelosi?

    pelosi can institute an investigation of the cia operations, that’s why.

    sen harry reid has said “no investigation”.

    what could be clearer? and we need to keep this point in clearest sight.

    this pelosi “affair” is an effort to intimidate the speaker of the u.s. house of representatives.

    would that the cia had proved competent at sniffing out yahoos from saudi arabia trying to learn how to fly, but not land, large airplanes.

    alas, the cia is not good at what we hope, and have a right to expect it will be good at.

    the cia is really good only at a cover-up.

    it’s acronym should be cya, not cia.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      pelosi can institute an investigation of the cia operations, that’s why.

      this pelosi “affair” is an effort to intimidate the speaker of the u.s. house of representatives.

      Excellent point!

      And one other point — William Ockham’s excellent remarks at 102 make many things clear, but it should also be underscored that because she’s required to keep quite about certain briefings, in a very real sense Pelosi is vulnerable because she can’t fight back — legally — without revealing classified information.

      Probably plenty who read this blog have been in situations where you couldn’t publicly say what you knew/know — you’d get hit with a lawsuit, or worse!

      It is worth being explicit about the fact that whoever is spreading this smoke knows full well that Pelosi can’t answer the charges.

      And it’s also worth noting that in order for the Plame Leaks to work, those leaking the info relied on the recipients of the information to hide the identities of the leakers — behind Freedom of the Press claims.

      This is a bit of a Redux, but this time people are leaking about someone who — for legal reasons — cannot defend herself by revealing what she knows.

  48. freepatriot says:

    plenty who read this blog have been in situations where you couldn’t publicly say what you knew/know — you’d get hit with a lawsuit, or worse!

    worse = property damages, personal danger, incarceration, and possibly deportation

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      So who is placing Pelosi in this spot and distracting the public, d’ya think?

  49. lurkinlil says:

    in response to freepatriot at 120:

    Well done! I think you are wonderful, as are the rest of you, especially EW. I think this exceptional young woman is a genius!
    Lil

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