Hardly a surprise on either score: after all, I’ve been telling people for years that Nancy Pelosi knew all about the waterboarding all along. So did Glenn Reynolds. So did, in fact, did a lot of other people. So the news (via Mark Thiessen) that a new book is out claiming that then-House Intelligence Ranking Member Nancy Pelosi and then-House Intelligence chair Porter Goss were fully briefed by the CIA on waterboarding as an interrogation technique in 2002 is not a surprise. If true, it’s very, very damning – the book is claiming that Pelosi declined to protest the waterboarding at all, while raising objections to another procedure (which implies that this old claim that she couldn’t protest is, well, another lie) – but not a surprise.
Interestingly, it may actually be more than a he-said, she-said moment here:
[Former CIA counterterrorism chief Jose] Rodriguez writes that there’s contemporaneous evidence to back his account of the briefing. Six days after the meeting took place, Rodriguez reveals, “a cable went out from headquarters to the black site informing them that the briefing for the House leadership had taken place.” He explains that “[t]he cable to the field made clear that [Rep. Porter] Goss and Pelosi had been briefed on the state of [senior al-Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaida]’s interrogation, specifically including the use of the waterboard and other enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Rodriguez asks, “So Pelosi was another member of Congress reinventing the truth. What’s the big deal?” The big deal, he explains, is “the message they are sending to the men and women of the intelligence community who to this day are being asked to undertake dangerous and sometimes controversial actions on behalf of their government. They are told that the administration and Congress ‘have their back.’ You will forgive CIA officers if they are not filled with confidence.”
Can’t say that I blame them. Also, Marc suggests that the easy way to settle this issue is for President Obama to declassify a specific cable from 2002 that recounts the specific CIA briefing. Do not hold your breath waiting for it to be declassified, of course: the last thing that the White House needs right now is to explicitly confirm that the Democratic party treats antiwar progressives like moderately distasteful milch cows. After all, at some point in the near future there will be a Republican President again, and when that happens the antiwar types will be worth pandering to again. Best not to remind those people too much that they’re merely things to be exploited, hey?
PS: I cannot respect someone who won’t respect himself. It simply will not happen.