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Pelosi Denies Knowing Interrogation Techniques Were Used

By Paul Kane

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today said congressional leaders were never briefed about the use of an enhanced interrogation practice, rejecting GOP claims that leadership was aware of the controversial tactics by late 2002.

Pelosi said the select few lawmakers who were briefed about handling of detainees from the war on terror, were then forbidden from discussing what they had learned with their colleagues. This produced an environment in which the top lawmakers were told of the existence of legal opinions supporting the rationale for waterboarding detainees, but never told that it was actually being used, according to Pelosi.

"Flat out, they never briefed us that this was happening," she said.

In late 2002, Pelosi was the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, while Porter Goss (R-Fla.) was chairman, when they first learned of the general nature of the interrogation techniques that were under consideration by the CIA's top officials. They were part of the so-called "Gang of Four" briefings given to the top members of the intelligence panels in the House and Senate. Pelosi continued receiving highly classified briefings when she became Democratic leader in 2003, as is custom to brief the top Democrat and Republican in each of the two chambers.

Republicans have repeatedly cited these briefings to reject calls from Pelosi and many congressional Democrats to create a "truth commission" to investigate alleged abuses in interrogations. Those calls grew louder after last week's release of the legal memos that the Bush administration used, from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, to explain what was allowed and what would break international anti-torture laws.

"All of this information was downloaded to congressional leaders of both parties with no objections being raised," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters today, specifically citing Pelosi as someone who received the briefings. "Not a word was raised at the time, not one word."

Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich), the ranking member of the House intelligence panel, argued the same point in an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal.

Pelosi denied these claims. "We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used. What they did tell us is that they had . . . the Office of Legal Counsel opinions [and] that they could be used, but not that they would," she said.

She said some officials, such as Goss, who went on to become CIA director, argued the lawmakers should have known the waterboarding would be used because they were told it was a legal practice. But she said they had no way of knowing that for certain, and they were then forbidden from talking about what they had learned so they could not work to outlaw the practice.

She summed up the briefings this way: "This is what they're doing. That's all they do. They don't come in to consult. They come in to notify. They come in to notify. And you can't -- you can't change what they're doing unless you can act as a committee or as a class. You can't change what they're doing."

By Paul Volpe  |  April 23, 2009; 5:23 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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Comments

I don't believe "Stretch" Pelosi. I think she knew about the waterboarding.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 23, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Nancy probably didn't have a clue and she is straightforward enough to admit it if she did. What the American people have learned recently is that if lawmakers want to obfuscate something, they'll simply hide it in an 11,000 page "brief" full of redactions, pencil write-ins and earmarks, submit it the night before a vote is made on it, and expect the usual result, that being an approval without reading the document..

Posted by: shanghai_newswire | April 23, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Liar, liar - pants on fire.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | April 23, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

How is it that congress can be muzzled by the executive branch under the 'national security' blanket? How are our legislators to function if they can't talk to one another?

"Pelosi denied these claims. "We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used. What they did tell us is that they had . . . the Office of Legal Counsel opinions [and] that they could be used, but not that they would," she said."

No one recognized that the Legal Counsel opinions where WRONG? What other opinions is the Legal Counsel coming up with that contradicts the US Constitution?

Posted by: watcher5 | April 23, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Republicons, please! It's like farting and then trying to blame the girl sitting next to you.

Posted by: Woodstocknative | April 23, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi knew that the OLC approved these methods, but didn't know that they were actually used? Okay, let's say we believe that.

It doesn't matter. If Pelosi had an objection to the use of waterboarding or any other form of torture, she should have said "this is wrong, don't do it." She didn't. She knew it could be done and said nothing. Shame on her.

Posted by: wapo9 | April 23, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

No one recognized that the Legal Counsel opinions where WRONG? What other opinions is the Legal Counsel coming up with that contradicts the US Constitution?

They are opinions! Who says they were wrong!

Posted by: bnichols6 | April 23, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone actually trust her word on anything? Anything at all?

Posted by: TheDubb | April 23, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe Pelosi. Her denial, and playing the semantics game, just doesn't cut it.

Posted by: playfair109 | April 23, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

she knew.

Posted by: donaldtucker | April 23, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

What has become apparent over many years is the so-called "briefings" by the intel community are one-way communications. "We are just telling you what we are doing/intend to do." The intel boys and girls are not looking for a nod of concurrence. They will note objections, but whether they choose to negotiate or discuss is up to them. They pretty much do what they damn well please. Don't blame torture on Pelosi. That is ridiculous. Blame it on Cheney, Yoo and the others.

Posted by: axolotl | April 23, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I am glad that Obama is doing this flip flop on the torture. Now everything is going to come out in the open. That Pelosi had direct knowledge of what was going on. Including Harman, Rochefeller, roberts, Goss. They had 30 different briefings and they even pushed the torture. I can't wait for all this to be unveiled then let's see what they have to say about prosecuting the lawyers & ones who had knowledge. Watch how the story changes then.

Posted by: releggneh1 | April 23, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

bnichols6 said "They are opinions! Who says they were wrong!"

Good point. The courts said John Yu's opinion that it's okay to detain people without due process is wrong. Yet, a whole lot of people knew it was wrong simply because it was a clear violation of our Constitution. Every government employee, including legislators, should know what the Constitution says. If some opinion comes along that runs counter to the Constitution, that opinion is wrong.

If an opinion is wrong, say so!

Posted by: watcher5 | April 23, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

The Bush Era is a repeat of the Spanish Inquisition times. Hopefully it's over. The cause was not to make America safer, but to try to find even a hair of evidence that Sadam was linked to 9-11, even if the confessions were false, as tortured people can be forced to confess even pacts with the Devil. Bush was obsessed to disprove his stupidity on the Iraq War, which Chenney, The Maniac and real master, readily cultivated. Any position that needs to be defended is per-se weak. Immoral positions will always needs to be defended. The War on Iraq has always been in need of "being defended".

Posted by: ElMugroso | April 23, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

This woman must think the American people would believe the GOP hid info. regarding the torture that was common knowledge to all American Citizens , Senate and Congress, Dems and Republicans and people world wide as well.

What a crock. ! Bush wasent shy to let the world know what he was doing to these so-called terrorists and neither was Cheney and the whole dammed bunch knew and boasted. Believe this woman, you believe in the tooth fairy. Her statement is an outrageous lie . She should be ashamed of herself

Posted by: LOONYBIN2000 | April 23, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Boehner is an idiot. Pelosi knowing about torture doesn't mean investigations and prosecutions should not happen. It means that Pelosi should be investigated and prosecuted the same as all the others that allowed this to happen.

Pelosi being complicit in torture activities could be the best thing that ever happened. Why? Because it will no longer be about Republican and Democrat - it'll be about who has answering to do.

I sincerely believe if it were not for the party politics aspect of this situation Republicans would be just as upset about torture. For example, on other boards Republicans are arguing that the release of these memos is making us less safe. However, that reasoning implicitly acknowledges that TORTURE - not the release of the documents - makes us less safe. I.e. Republicans would be upset about torture if it were not their leaders that implemented it (which this article says it was not all their fault).

Furthermore, given Republicans penchant for supporting our troops, it seems unlikely they would support torture because by negative inference torture puts our troops in danger. I.e. [Random Despot in the world] "If the US doesn't have to follow the Geneva Convention, why do I"?

I'm just saying - if both parties are complicit then we can fix the real problem - torture. So, I hope Pelosi really was involved.

Just saying.

Posted by: rpesek6904 | April 23, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Boehner is an idiot. Pelosi knowing about torture doesn't mean investigations and prosecutions should not happen. It means that Pelosi should be investigated and prosecuted the same as all the others that allowed this to happen.

Pelosi being complicit in torture activities could be the best thing that ever happened. Why? Because it will no longer be about Republican and Democrat - it'll be about who has answering to do.

I sincerely believe if it were not for the party politics aspect of this situation Republicans would be just as upset about torture. For example, on other boards Republicans are arguing that the release of these memos is making us less safe. However, that reasoning implicitly acknowledges that TORTURE - not the release of the documents - makes us less safe. I.e. Republicans would be upset about torture if it were not their leaders that implemented it (which this article says it was not all their fault).

Furthermore, given Republicans penchant for supporting our troops, it seems unlikely they would support torture because by negative inference torture puts our troops in danger. I.e. [Random Despot in the world] "If the US doesn't have to follow the Geneva Convention, why do I"?

I'm just saying - if both parties are complicit then we can fix the real problem - torture. So, I hope Pelosi really was involved.

Just saying.

Posted by: rpesek6904 | April 23, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

With all this misleading about Iraq, why should there be any surpise about this.

We have all been mislead by the Cheney Administration!

Posted by: writedave | April 23, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

So,is Mad Madame Speaker Nutty Nancy Pelosi
trying to out-lie her and George Soros
Puppet President Messiah Barack Obama here
or what? Come on Mad Madame Botox Queen
Nancy Pelosi stop lying and trying to
CYOA,as you damn well knew Bush & Cheney
use of torture and waterboarding,so stop
trying to lie your way out it Pelosi!

So,speaking of Nancy Pelosi when is Pelosi
going to tell the truth about why,Pelosi
you took Impeachment Off The Table?

And Nancy Pelosi did you make a deal with
Bush and Cheney to not go to jail for your
employing Illegal Aliens in your family
vineyards,resort hotels and reastaurants?
So Nancy Pelosi,you,and Harry Reid,Steny
Hoyer,Jane Harman,Jay Rockefeller,et all
you have a lot to answer for to us now!

And so,does Comrade Messiah Barack Obama as
well,along with Obama's Corrupt Crazy US
Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama's
total incompetent Sec of Homeland Security
Janet Napolitano. Impeach Obama,Fire Holder
and Napolitano and throw Nancy Pelosi,
Steny Hoyer,Harry Reid,Jay Rockefeller and
Jane Harman out of Congress! Is it 2010 or
2012 yet by now? Obama & Company Worst
President Ever! Nancy Pelosi Worst Speaker
in History! Holder & Napolitano Incompetent
Beyond Description! Throw these bums out!

Posted by: Sue1980 | April 23, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe Pelose either. If they were told it was a legal thing, why would she think they would not use it? She did not care and now that she is in trouble, she says she did not know. Maybe this is how he gets rid of her.

Posted by: annnort | April 23, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Can some of you liberals share the outcome of the tribunals related to Truman incinerating 300,000 Japanese civilians during WWII? I can't seem to find any reference that it ever occurred.

Oh cr@p, that's right, Truman was a DimoCRAP. Any war crime he ever committed is perfectly fine so there was no p^issing and moaning from the left about war crimes.

But still don't you think after months of carpet bombing residential areas with fire bombs, it was pretty nasty to drop a couple A-bombs.

Personallty, I know it doesn't equate to Bush making some guy caught with bombs strapped around his chest being forced to wear underwear on his head. After all; imagine how embarrassed he's going to be going home and facing ridicule from his fellow terrorist after Obysmal has him released. And besides; Bush is a conservative.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | April 23, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
~James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788


BTW - Nancy, one honest word......"LIAR!!!"

"How YOU can tell if a Politician is lying.....if their lips are moving!!!"

The ONLY difference between a crooked Politician and an Honest Politician is that the Honest Politician just hasn't gotten caught yet!!!

Posted by: thgirbla | April 23, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

"Pelosi denies knowing Interrogation techniques were used"

Who's lying here???

On the one hand, the GOP is legendary for twisting the truth & it seems that nearly everything that comes from them is either a lie, a half truth, or a distortion of the truth.

On the other hand, why did it take years for Pilosi to deny the GOP generated stories that, top Democrats in both the Senate & the House were fully briefed on the Administration's interrogation techniques? And what of reports that Pilosi had been interacting with Jane Harmon in regard to their endorsement of such violations of criminal law by the Bush Administration?

Any reasonable person would have to draw the conclusion that, now that the tide has turned in regard to public condemnation of such barbaric practices by the Bush Administration, that Pilosi is lying through her teeth on this one. So what else is new?

Our utterly corrupt government at work!

Posted by: book134 | April 23, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Well, Ms. Pelosi, methinks thou doest protest too much! If it is true that you didn't really know what the rest of America knew, will you agree to the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute those who were compicit in the torture regime? I'll bet not.

Wingnuts: it's not about Republicans vs. Democrats or Conservative vs. Liberal. It is about the whole lying bunch of Washingtonians, a vast criminal conspiracy incorporating both parties and their lying ideologies. Wake up, wingnuts. Support your nation, not your false idols!

Posted by: frazeysburger | April 23, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

I believe what most people overlook is the simple fact we are dealing with people who have become professional lairs. I mean they can say one thing one day in a statement vehemently denying any and all involvement in the dirty deed and the very next day flatly state they DID DI IT...Ala That wonderful Mr Dodd........
Come on Nancy, fess up old girl, you will go to hell for lying y'know?

Plus the fact, after 9-11 we, as nation, wanted our pound of flesh......and were going in numerous directions trying to find 'the enemy' and we wanted them to pay for their crimes.....murdering innocent people for sheer pleasure and destroying the World Trade Centers---does anyone really believe we wouldn't have killed to get information BEFORE it happened?

OK, anyway, Nancy needs a trip to the woodshed for well deserved beating...she's one very nasty liar!!

Posted by: doings88082 | April 23, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

None of us know what the truth is because the briefers classified the information and spooked the Gang of Four, and prevented the Congress from learning the truth at that time. If it is true that they were informed of waterboarding and all of the other techniques, such as appeared in the photo of Abu Garib and slamming heads against walls, is there any evidence that either Republican objected to it? Probably not, that's the way the two treat their kids. (half joke) craig cornish

Posted by: squirt07 | April 23, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

PELOSI IS A COMPLETE FRAUD. SHE KNEW ALL ALONG!!!!!

Posted by: dcsackers2 | April 23, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

None of us know what the truth is because the briefers classified the information and spooked the Gang of Four, and prevented the Congress from learning the truth at that time. If it is true that they were informed of waterboarding and all of the other techniques, such as appeared in the photo of Abu Garib and slamming heads against walls, is there any evidence that either Republican objected to it? Probably not. Perhaps that's the way the two treat their kids. craig cornish

Posted by: squirt07 | April 23, 2009 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Read Glen Thrush at politico.com. She knew. http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/0409/Pelosi_briefed_on_waterboarding_in_02_.html

And even in the initial account, she admitted to being briefed on the permissible use of the technique. OK, so maybe she was not allowed to call a press conference to object, but she did not even object in private, which she obviously was allowed to do.

So yes, let's have that Truth Commission.

Posted by: Compared2What | April 23, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

All of them should have to do the combined terms of jail time of the men and women they let be convicted of crimes they were orderd to commit. They just stood by and let these brave people go to jail. Shame on all of them forever.

Posted by: Vet68-75 | April 24, 2009 12:44 AM | Report abuse

Madam Speaker certainly is quite a piece of work!

I can't wait to hear her constients when they find out the dates, locations, etc of these briefings.

I live about 15 miles from her district and I'm sure I will hear them loud and clear (well, clear might not be the right word).

Posted by: lorenem | April 24, 2009 1:25 AM | Report abuse

I NEVER thought I would say anything like this. Nancy makes Hillary look good.

Posted by: windbreaker | April 24, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

While pointing fingers makes us feel morally superior, it also deflects us away from the underlying really hard questions - morally, legally, ethically - can/should torture be used by the US. Questions like these are what our elected leaders should be earnestly working on - instead of whining about the other party 24/7.

Posted by: letsbereasonable | April 24, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats are at war with America while Obama's foreign policy sinks.
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/271450

Posted by: lclifton | April 24, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I can't wait until Mark Levin get "Her" on the stand. Wonder how many times she will take the 5th.

Posted by: pryxp1 | April 24, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

She summed up the briefings this way: "This is what they're doing. That's all they do. They don't come in to consult. They come in to notify. They come in to notify. And you can't -- you can't change what they're doing unless you can act as a committee or as a class. You can't change what they're doing."
----------------------------------------
I guess that includes writing a $900 Billion Stimulus bill (without Republican input) then giving the House 48 hrs to vote on it.

Posted by: Owiseone | April 24, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Why anyone would believe anything out of Pelosi's mouth is beyond me. The ranking member of the intelligence committee didn't know what was going on? Yeah.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | April 24, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

It's called "plausible deniability." Rethugs get used to it.

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | April 24, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

This controversy over whether Pelosi knew exactly what they were doing is yet another attempt by right-wing commentators to change the subject. First we heard that no, the US does not torture. Then we heard, well, okay, some bad apples do torture, but not the rest of us. Then we heard, well, that isn't torture anyway. Then we heard, well, okay, but our lawyers said we could torture. Then we heard, well, ok, we tortured, but we only did it to defend you. Then we heard hey, don't reveal our torture methods to everybody, you'll jeopardize national security. Now we hear, hey, no fair, you knew we were torturing and you didn't say anything. The Bush Administration officials clearly lost their moral compass, and seem willing to justify anything. I wonder what's next, the devil made me do it?

Posted by: brent2 | April 24, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I see nothing.I hear nothing. I know nothing. Well Pelosi's right on the last point. Does anyone Left Right or Center not see thru this political Gargoyle! WISE- UP!

Posted by: ALL-AMERICAN1 | April 24, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that if we could remember WHY these efforts were made - 9/11, not one person would have disagreed with the practice at the time. How short our memories are - but living in NYC and seeing directly the horror of that day, I can only say if what they did saved lives - and apparently it did as LA was a target (and other information was garnered that prevented another 9/11 - one of which was a 9/11 plotter - then so be it. Torture in mho is when heads are sliced slowly off with a dull knife - while the screaming victim is video taped for the world to see.

What other nations displays for the world to see, top level matters? This will weaken our country.

If you've ever worked with insane people - you will realize that one can not be rational with irrational people - ever!

Posted by: bettaboy | April 25, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Nancy has obviously been talking to Clinton! "It depends what is means".

Posted by: smrlilbit | April 25, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Just like when we went to war in Iraq with the Democrats voting for it because of what they were briefed on and then later saying the President lied, Pelosi was briefed on these procedures and could have protested but did not. Now she says she knew nothing about it. Hypocritical liar! How did this woman get into one of the highest positions in government. She is a dimwit!!

Posted by: reneethereseperry | April 25, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately this woman will say about anything to stay in the power seat. She will fall eventually but most likely it will be too late to undo the mess that we will be living. People like Nancy Pelosi do for themselves in diguise of doing for the people. Godspeed to us all.

Posted by: brianlisa | April 29, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

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