Nancy Pelosi and the CIA: Who's Lying Now?

Along with her difficulties ramming health care down our throats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has an ugly, slightly "cobwebbed" credibility issue that is about to get dusted off and given full, sunlit exposure due to new documents being pried loose by court order.

Pelosi's "credibility" is under scrutiny due to her unusually harsh criticism of the Central Intelligence Agency last year. When liberals began flapping indignantly a few years ago over "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding, which were used on detained terrorists after 9/11, the CIA defended itself in 2009, saying that certain members of Congress had been aware of the interrogations for years and had done nothing to stop them. It turned out that one of the most outspoken critics of the so-called "torture" techniques, Speaker Pelosi, attended a briefing or briefings.

Ensnared in her own word-web after she had so vociferously criticized the Bush administration for "torturing" terrorists, an indignant Pelosi called a news conference in May 2009 to make the remarkable or reckless assertion that  the CIA was "misleading the Congress of the United States" about her knowledge and/or complicit approval of any waterboarding or other tough interrogation tactics and that "they [the CIA] mislead us all the time."

ABC NEWS (see also video in link):

"The CIA briefed me only once on enhanced interrogation techniques in September 2002 in my capacity as ranking member of the Intelligence Committee. I was informed then that the Department of Justice opinions had concluded that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques were legal. The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed," Pelosi said today, reading from a prepared statement.

Terror suspect Abu Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding 83 times in August 2002, the month prior to when Pelosi was briefed about enhanced interrogation techniques.

Republicans in Congress have been calling since last year for the CIA to release all briefing minutes to determine who in Congress knew what and when about "torture" or enhanced interrogations -- and which, if any, approved of the methods. Democrats like Pelosi had called for a "truth commission" to investigate the Bush administration's treatment of terrorists, but after the CIA released part of the briefing information, Pelosi, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, and the Obama administration backed away from the idea. What, did the truth not serve them?

Despite Ms. Pelosi's "suggestions" to release all briefing memos, a major public interest agency has been forced to file lawsuits to get them.

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, has received through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) a CIA "Top Secret" memorandum which may be one of the first pieces of evidence to show that Speaker Pelosi indeed was briefed about the tough interrogations of terrorists in U.S. detention. More memos are being sought which may show how many meetings she attended and what she asked, said, and did.

Judicial Watch:

The following are excerpts from the Memorandum, dated July 14, 2004:

Summary of testimony by DOD Official, Lt. Gen. William Boykin: "At this point, General Boykin read a prepared statement to the Committee in which he asserted that interrogation is a critically valuable tool, and, citing observations made by service personnel at Ft. Bragg, said that the most [imp]ortant factor in the capture of Saddam Hussein was interrogation."

Summary of testimony by member of the CTC (Counterterrorism Center), name redacted: "...Even today long term detainees like Khalid Shayk Muhammed and Zubaydah are providing good information because their histories go back a long way and often a tidbit they provide, while not initially operationally significant, ends up being the piece that completes the puzzle; DC/CTC closed by noting that he was personally persuaded that detainee reporting has saved lives."

Rep. Jane Harman: "What do you think of the value of enhanced techniques?" John Pistole, Witness for the FBI: "In my view the benefits are huge and the costs are insignificant. Very few detainees don't provide us with good information...."

Rep. Ruppersberger: "Are there procedures that we have stopped that should be resumed?" Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, the Army G-2, [now Director of the National Security Agency (NSA)]: "Yes. Diet and sleep management. Those, plus segregation which is still employed, are key..."

General Alexander also testified that field commanders wanted more "97E's" (interrogators), "even to the point of trading off some of their combat troops."

Saddam Hussein was not subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, but "friendly discussions with an eye to future public prosecution."

In February, Judicial Watch released documents, previously marked "Top Secret," indicating that between 2001 and 2007, the CIA briefed at least 68 members of Congress on the CIA interrogation program, including so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques." The documents include the dates of all congressional briefings and, in some cases, the members of Congress in attendance and the specific subjects discussed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who previously denied she was briefed by the CIA on the use of these techniques, is specifically referenced in a briefing that took place on April 24, 2002 regarding the "ongoing interrogations of Abu Zubaydah."

Again, return to Ms. Pelosi's May 2009 news conference assertion that she was briefed "only once" about the interrogations and that the briefing was in September of 2002.  

April 15 is the court's deadline for the CIA to produce the rest of the briefings memoranda to Judicial Watch per the court's order, so it should be clear then who was at which meeting and what was said.  

"We are now beginning to get a very clear picture of what members of Congress knew about so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and when they knew it," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "Intelligence officials repeatedly informed members of Congress that enhanced interrogation techniques are effective and save lives. It is little wonder why the Obama administration would try to keep these documents hidden, given the administration's ideological hostility to these effective interrogation techniques."

Once the full truth is known from the CIA memos, Pelosi will be caught in a web of her own making. Then what? It's unlikely that the House Speaker will apologize or retract her accusation. The time and effort spent by watchdogs like Judicial Watch to bring out the truth years after Pelosi's CIA slander (or careless words) may not reap any immediate penalty to her, but maybe it will affect her reelection in November. 

Ms. Pelosi has been entrenched in the Congress for 23 years, rarely challenged in her San Francisco district. Perhaps after this credibility "clunk," even California Congressional District 8 liberals will finally be sufficiently offended or embarrassed by Ms. Pelosi's many missteps. These would include but not be limited to Pelosi's self-entitled $2.1-million expenditure of government funds over two years for an Air Force jet for her and her family's use, including more than $100,000 for catering and alcoholic beverages aboard said jet, and $1.1 million of taxpayer funds to squire a delegation of 106 people to the purpose-challenged Copenhagen climate summit. Ms. Pelosi has also been listed as one of "Congress' Top Ten Most Corrupt Politicians" in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Meanwhile, many federal dollars were no doubt expended to have CIA staff review, redact, and unsuccessfully fend off the release of records which are proving the House Speaker to be "misleading." It is certainly very expensive to have Nancy Pelosi in Congress. There are two able Republicans running who hope to replace her.

Jane Jamison is publisher of the conservative news/commentary blog,