Would CIA Lie to Pelosi?

Actually, that’s the latest charge from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about waterboarding. At issue here is a “what did she know and when did she know it” game of gotcha in Congress.

If Pelosi knew about the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, the logic goes, both parties must share the blame for their use. Yeah, I know it’s a specious argument, but it’s all the Republicans have got.

Pelosi herself has been caught in a trap on this one. She’s denied for some time that she knew or had been briefed about CIA use of torture. Then comes word of a September 2002 briefing that said she had. The GOP was beside itself with glee. After all, if the woman who became House Speaker more than four years later was told, how bad can torture be? (sarcasm off)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Now Pelosi has thrown down the gauntlet, saying she was misled about techniques used on detainees, specifically telling her “waterboarding was not being used.” When asked Thursday by reporters why she didn’t point this out when, in 2003, she learned the CIA was waterboarding, her answer was, “they mislead us all the time.”

That, of course, is an explosive charge. Lying to members of Congress is against the law, even for the CIA. The agency, for its part, issued a statement through a spokesman, saying it is “not the policy of the CIA to mislead the United States Congress.” There may be a couple of Americans who wonder about that one. After all, it may not be the policy, but did they do it?

At least Nancy Pelosi and her chief Republican critic Pete Hoekstra of Michigan agree on one thing.


Both want more details of CIA briefings with members of Congress released. Sure they may want them released for different reasons, but what the heck. That this entire furor has sea legs speaks to fears that some Bush Administration and CIA officials may have to account for the torture program that Dick Cheney so roundly defends.

That’s why it’s so important to document that some Democrats knew about it and kept their mouths shut. Who better than the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee in ’02, who now is the Speaker of the House?

Right now the only way to clear the air on this is to actually let those briefings see the light of day. Whether they back Pelosi or not is irrelevant. The American people deserve to know the full details about how torture became part of the US arsenal of intelligence gathering.

Isn’t it worth it so we don’t make that mistake again? What do you think’s the outlook for Nancy Pelosi? Should Nancy Pelosi step down?


3 Comments Add yours

  1. frigginloon says:

    Can you hear the paper shredders Clarice? Someone has to be the scapegoat, it might as well be Pelosi. Cheney and Bush have a policy of “deny” everything. Besides it was George W’s daddy running the show… and the ghosts of governments past!

  2. sanda says:

    Nice pearls. Would the CIA lie? Why not?

  3. sanda says:

    See Jason Leopold’s new article on TruthOut http://www.truthout.org about a former CIA worker,
    Mary O. McCarthy saying the CIA lied to Congress in 2005 with specifics.

    It’s the specifics that are so mind-boggling intricate detailed in instance and story after
    story. It makes my eyes glaze over sometimes. And I’m a reader (albeit disability limits
    my reading time) and a fast reader. Pres. Obama is doing some heavy PR on the flip flops, including the latest on restarting military tribunals. Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com
    keeps his eyes on it in detail. http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald I applaud your skills in tracking down information/links.

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