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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Waterboarding: They Were For It Before They Were Against It

Major Hat tip to Michael van der Galien of the PoliGazette for the email bringing this news to my attention.

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.

I don't even know where to start here with all the name calling, denials, accusations and investigations, one would have to wonder how this little tidbit didn't come to light sooner.

To give credit where it is due, even members of the left are highly peeved, to put it nicely, that Nancy Pelosi was present at that tour in 2002.

The article goes on to report that overseers were given approximately 30 briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge, and with only one exception, no formal objections were raised.

The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

Furthermore, according to Porter Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006, "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing, and the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."

So, the thought process in 2002 was:

"In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic," said one U.S. official present during the early briefings. "But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.' "

Only after information about the practice began to leak in news accounts in 2005 -- by which time the CIA had already abandoned waterboarding -- did doubts about its legality among individual lawmakers evolve into more widespread dissent. The opposition reached a boiling point this past October, when Democratic lawmakers condemned the practice during Michael B. Mukasey's confirmation hearings for attorney general.

There are three pages to that article, read them all.

PoliGazette (linked above) stated in his title the perfect description of this with "Waterboarding Hypocrisy in Action".


For the record, we are not discussing waterboarding in this post, we are discussing the ugly, hypocritical nature of those with knowledge that waterboarding was being used, in 2002, said nothing, and still went on in 2005 to the present time to use it for political gain without coming clean on what they knew and when they knew it and the fact that at the time they never raised any objections.

The level of anger I am seeing on the left side of the aisle at their own politicians shows adequately, the hypocrisy is not going unnoticed, they are angry they were duped by their own representatives by being led to believe it was the administration alone that condoned these activities, never giving hint at their own complicity.

Reactions from the left:

One example is shown at Corrente, please be advised before clicking that for some the language will be quite offensive, but I am linking to it because it shows that members of the left are outraged beyond belief.

Washington Monthly:

Bottom line: it looks like they all knew about it (Graham's denial is unconvincing given that Harman, Pelosi, and Goss all admit they were briefed and Harman even wrote a formal letter of protest), and it looks like most of them didn't have a problem with it. Another great day for the Republic.

The Impolitic:

However, that doesn't excuse the Democratic leadership's failure here and in fact, the Democrat's betrayal is the more egregious. We expect the GOP to sell us out, but the Dems have been handwringing and making very stern statements of outrage about torture while some of the loudest voices of protest were tacitly endorsing the process all along. That's simply inexcusable and it's long past time for our so-called leaders to be called out on their dereliction of duty. Lambert is right. Pelosi should be removed immediately and furthermore Jay Rockefeller has got to go.....

The Carpetbagger Report:

If lawmakers could perhaps elaborate now on what they knew, and when, it’d be very helpful — because it sounds as if they raised concerns about waterboarding after it made headlines in 2005, not before.

Prairie Weather:

Now we're beginning to understand the depth of bad judgment and coverup on the part of Democratic leaders in Congress.

Liberal Values:

If the situation had been reversed, we know that the Republicans would have had no qualms about sticking to their principles (regardless of whether their principles are right or wrong) and would have pushed to oppose Democratic policies without regard for the political consequences. That is why they made a more effective opposition, and why they ultimately took control of the government for so many years despite lacking the ability to govern effectively.

Those are representative of the majority of the reactions being found on the left side of the blogosphere.

Other reactions include but are not limited to:

Jules Crittenden:

Not fair! The Dems have a political operation to run, and if they are going to govern by poll, it really isn’t sporting for people to start poking around in what they did or didn’t do, think and say when the polls were blowing in a different direction! Next thing you know, someone’s going to say the Clinton co-presidency thought Saddam had a nuclear program and backed regime change.


Does this mean that we can finally say that waterboarding receives bipartisan support?

Why yes.

And when did Democrats like Pelosi oppose waterboarding? When the public found out about it and objected to it.

Power Line:

Of course they didn't. At that time, most rational people would have favored waterboarding (and more) as a means of obtaining information from high value terrorists. The four members in question -- Nancy Pelosi, Porter Goss, Bob Graham, and Pat Roberts -- represent a cross-section of the political spectrum. Pelosi is a leftist; Graham is a moderate-liberal; Roberts and Goss are conservatives. But they shared a desire to protect the country from further attack. That desire trumped partisanship, and was sufficient for Pelosi and the others effectively to sign off on what the CIA was doing.

Today, of course, things are different. We haven't been attacked in more than six years, quite possibly because of the information we obtained through waterboarding and other aggressive techniques. Thus, the partisan instinct, coupled with the joy of posturing, prevails.

Hot Air:

Notice what else Pelosi knew about: The CIA’s so-called black sites where terrorists were being held overseas. And she did not object.


This revelation however completely demolishes the accusation that the administration was secretly waterboarding terrorist suspects left and right and hiding it from congress. They knew all along and in a few cases called for more. This shows that in fact the administration was above board (sorry) on interrogation techniques.

Reactions are not complete without at least one from the BDS faction of the Democratic party where it is all Bush's fault dammit, completely ignoring and not addressing the actual issue of who knew and when they knew it.

It's pretty clear that either one of the Republican members of Congress at the meeting, or the CIA, decided to leak what happened at a super-classified post-9/11 briefing in order to embarrass Pelosi and the Democrats. And I don't doubt for a minute that Bush approved the leak, as he always does.


You can keep up with the reactions (there are many many more) over at Memeorandum.