House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she was never told during a congressional briefing in 2002 that waterboarding or other "enhanced" interrogation techniques were being used on terrorism suspects.
However, there has been some suspicion that she might have been less than truthful in that statement:
But in a story published in the Washington Post in December 2007, two officials were quoted saying that the California Democrat and three other lawmakers had received an hour-long secret briefing on the interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, and that they raised no objections at the time.
The clash of accounts has stirred Republican claims that Democrats have selective and politically motivated amnesia when it comes to who knew what, and when, about the Bush-era interrogation programs.
Yesterday, Porter J. Goss, one of the four lawmakers in the previously mentioned secret briefing and former CIA director, definitely blew her story out of the water, even though he never mentioned Pelosi by name:
A disturbing epidemic of amnesia seems to be plaguing my former colleagues on Capitol Hill. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, members of the committees charged with overseeing our nation's intelligence services had no higher priority than stopping al-Qaeda. In the fall of 2002, while I was chairman of the House intelligence committee, senior members of Congress were briefed on the CIA's "High Value Terrorist Program," including the development of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and what those techniques were. This was not a one-time briefing but an ongoing subject with lots of back and forth between those members and the briefers.
Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as "waterboarding" were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.
Let me be clear. It is my recollection that:
-- The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists.
What Goss leaves out is that the Dear Speaker was the ranking Democratic member on the House intel committee in 2002. As the ranking Democratic leader, she would have been told of such techniques in this briefing.
Goss goes on:
-- We understood what the CIA was doing.
-- We gave the CIA our bipartisan support.
-- We gave the CIA funding to carry out its activities.
-- On a bipartisan basis, we asked if the CIA needed more support from Congress to carry out its mission against al-Qaeda.
I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues. They did not vote to stop authorizing CIA funding. And for those who now reveal filed "memorandums for the record" suggesting concern, real concern should have been expressed immediately -- to the committee chairs, the briefers, the House speaker or minority leader, the CIA director or the president's national security adviser -- and not quietly filed away in case the day came when the political winds shifted. And shifted they have.
So, not only did Pelosi lie and say that she didn't know when she did, but she apparently didn't have any problem with it.