(8:13PM EST 12/9/07 – promoted by LithiumCola)
I’ve been reading the reports of the fact that Congressional Leaders, including Speaker Pelosi, were briefed about the CIA’s interrogation procedures and overseas detention programs. I’ve read Matt Stoller’s comments about the mood of many people in the country, and the Congress at the time that these leaders were briefed in 2002:
“…The country went insane from 2001-2003… don’t buy that this stuff is new or restricted to our political leadership. In all honesty, I don’t know that if I were in Pelosi’s position at that time that I would have objected. Fear is powerful and I don’t assume that I would have done well in that environment, though I like to think that most of us have learned enough to change our relationship to human rights and authority in the last few years….Nevertheless, our collective failures, and Nancy Pelosi’s specific moral albatross, is to address this country’s use of torture. ..”
The Washington Post and Raw Story reported on the Congressional Briefings:
The Washington Post Reports that Congressional leaders were briefed on waterboarding in 2002 and In Meetings, Spy Panels’ Chiefs Did Not Protest, Officials Say:
“…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…
Raw Story Reports: (Emphasis mine)
“…Only Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) — then the second-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee who would supplant Pelosi in 2003 — formally objected. Harman…who was set to lead the House Intelligence Committee when the Democrats retook the chamber in 2006, was pushed aside by Pelosi when she took over as Speaker…”
Harman,who replaced Pelosi as the committee’s top Democrat in January 2003, disclosed Friday that she filed a classified letter to the CIA in February of that year as an official protest about the interrogation program,” the Post notes. “Harman said she had been prevented from publicly discussing the letter or the CIA’s program because of strict rules of secrecy.”
Yes, the period following the attacks on the twin towers and Pentagon were turbulent, and hindsight is always 20/20, but Leaders who refuse to admit to mistakes or own up to the consequences doom us and themselves to repeat them.
I’m not a Congressional Leader who had access to all the information that Pelosi and Co. had in 2002. I question why Rep. Harman-who always seemed to me to be much more of a hawk than Pelosi-had the knowledge, conscience and courage to object to interrogation techniques that she knew were very likely against the Geneva Conventions-and to question why Pelosi did not.
If Pelosi came to question her decision to allow waterboarding and overseas detention centers to continue without objection in 2002, why did she remove the only person who did object, Rep. Harman, from the House Intelligence Committee? Was it for the publicly stated reasons, was it because of personal animosity, or was it because Rep. Harman objected to waterboarding and Pelosi did not?