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May 9, 2009
'What Congress Knew'
A piece in the Wall Street Journal reports that Congress had no less than 40 briefings on CIA enhanced interrogation techniques - most of them involving Speaker Pelosi who denies she knew that the agency was using waterboarding on terrorist suspects:
On September 4, 2002, Porter Goss, then the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Nancy Pelosi, the ranking Democratic member, were given a classified briefing by the CIA on what the Agency calls "enhanced interrogation techniques," or, in persistent media parlance, "torture." In particular, the CIA briefed the members on the use of these techniques on Abu Zubaydah, a high-ranking al Qaeda operative captured in Pakistan the previous March.
Abu Zubaydah was a name the future Speaker was already familiar with. That spring, information obtained from the terrorist had the FBI and other government agencies scrambling to prevent possible attacks on the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. It wasn't clear whether Abu Zubaydah was being truthful. "He is also very skilled at avoiding interrogation," Ms. Pelosi was quoted in Time magazine. "He is an agent of disinformation." It is precisely for such reasons that the CIA resorted to its enhanced techniques later that year, after gaining legal authorization.
These days, Speaker Pelosi insists she heard and saw no evil. "We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used," she told reporters late last month. "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."
Meanwhile, Jennifer Rubin at Commentary Magazine says "The Jig is Up:"
So what will be the next round of excuses from Congressional "leaders"? They didn't understand what the briefers were saying - or they couldn't do anything about it, perhaps. But if lawmakers are not competent enough to listen to critical data, make inquiry and act in their legislative capacity then what good, if any, are they doing on intelligence committees? And what use is it to consult with them?
There is a new game in town. The president tried a selective declassification and suggested some potential investigation and prosecution of those who worked to defend the country from peril. Someone or some group of individuals don't appreciate the gamesmanship and have thrown open the hatches - out comes the information about forgotten briefings. And Rep. Pete Hoekstra hints there is more where that came from.
Obama and the Democrats in Congress violated a cardinal rule: don't play politics with national security. They now should be prepared to pay the price.
That price will include a full blown exposure of our techniques to get information from suspects. And the public will have the Democrats to thank for it.