I wanted to point out two more details from the Pelosi press conference the other day when she made her comments about briefings on torture (the complete transcript of this section is below).
First, Pelosi points out that one thing BushCo did was put intelligence-related appropriations through without telling the intelligence committee what they were putting through.
Q: Does this call into question the value of the briefing then, if they are not telling you fully…
Speaker Pelosi. I have questioned the values of the briefings over and over and over again. We only know what they choose to tell us and the manner and time in which they tell us. And that is why when people are talking about – whether they are talking about torture, or whether they are talking about wiretapping, or whatever you are talking about, we really have to have a change now in how Congress can do its oversight, because we expect and demand the truth.
And that’s why I, when I became Speaker, established this joint committee between the Appropriations Committee and the Intelligence Committee, because the fact is they really were not fully briefing the Intelligence Committee. And they have to answer to the Appropriations Committee because that’s where their funding comes from.
It is a long story, it’s an evolution. It used to be the Intelligence Committee – you couldn’t appropriate unless the Intelligence Committee authorized. It was almost effectively an appropriation. Over time the Intelligence in the Bush years became part of supplementals so there was absolutely no sharing of information. They would just stick the request in the supplementals. We said, "Okay, if they are going right to appropriations, we will have members of the Intelligence Committee serve in this hybrid committee, part Intelligence, part Appropriations." [my emphasis]
We know that BushCo briefed Toobz Stevens and Daniel Inouye on the warrantless wiretap program in December 2001. (Yeah, I know. There’s a twosome I want guarding my civil liberties.) I wonder if they got more substantive briefings than the Gang of Four?
And of course, we know the entire Iraq War was paid for on supplementals. So there were billions and billions of dollars to sneak illegal programs through.
And finally, a point klynn and Sara have been making–the guys who did this torture were contractors, not CIA officers. Which means they only had to get Uncle Toobz and his buddy Inouye to approve a contract in an emergency supplemental. And voila! We’ve got state-sanctioned torture!
Pelosi also referenced memos they had previously not known of:
When you are there, you only have the benefit of the information that they give you. You don’t even know if there are other opinions, and that’s what we wanted to find out, and now we are finding out that there were.
I don’t know if she’s referring to just the 2007 memo Spencer scooped, the 2003 memo described by the WaPo last year, or whether there are others. My guess, of course, is that there are more memos–and I’m betting that 2003 one includes reference to use of drugs in interrogation.
But one thing is clear: even Pelosi is still learning new details of the torture program. There’s a lot more to come yet.