Thursday, May 14, 2009

Nancy Pelosi "This is their policy"

While being annoyed while listening to Nancy Pelosi today, during her press briefing, I realized how over-the-top the blame game is becoming. It seems that everything that ever happened or is currently happening is the fault of the Republican Party.

So, I decided to write a transcript of the main portion of the briefing. Pay close attention to how nervous she is, how often she has to go back to her written "statement", and how often she blames the Republican Party for the problems and tells the press that the CIA lied to her and to Congress. Personally, I would not have wanted to open that can of worms.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Official Press Briefing, May 14, 2009

(This begins her "statement" regarding the enhanced interrogation techniques)

I unequivocally oppose the use of torture by our government because it is contrary to our national values.

Like all members of congress that are briefed on classified information I have signed oaths not to disclose any of that information. This is an oath I have taken very seriously and I've always abided by it.

The CIA briefed me only once on enhanced interrogation techniques in September 2002 in my capacity of 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. Those conducting briefing promised to inform the appropriate members of congress if that technique were to be used in the future.

Congress and the American people now know that, contrary to the opinions within...contrary opinions within the executive branch, concluded that these interrogation techniques were not legal. However, those opinions were not shared with congress.

We also now know that techniques including waterboarding had already been employed and that those briefing me in September 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information.

At the same time, the Bush administration...this is exactly the same time (waving hand in defensive stance, looking up from reading her prepared speech)...September of 2002...the Fall of 2002...(swallowing heavily) the same time, the Bush administration was misleading the American people about the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

5 months later in February of 2003, a member of my staff informed me that the Republican Chairman and the Democratic ranking member of the Intelligence Committee had been briefed about the use of certain techniques which had been the subject of earlier legal opinions.

Following that briefing a letter raising concerns was sent to CI general council Scott Mullard by the new Democratic ranking member of committee...the appropriate person to register a protest. But no letter could change the policy. It was clear we had to change leadership in congress and in the white house. That was my job...the congress part.
When democrats assumed control of the congress in 2007, congress passed legislation banning torture and requiring all government agencies to abide by the army field manual.

President Bush vetoed this bill barring the use of torture.

In an effort to overturn his veto failed because of the votes of the republican members.
We needed to elect a new president. We did. And he has banned torture.

Congress and the administration must review...I've always believed that congress and the administration must review the national security act of we have a chance to do that with the new determine if a larger number of members of congress should received classified briefings so that the information can be utilized by proper oversight...for proper oversight and legislative activity without violating oaths of secrecy.

I have long supported creation of an independent truth commission to determine how intelligence was misused. And how controversial and possibly illegal activities like torture were authorized within the executive branch.

Until a truth commission comes into being, I encourage the appropriate committees of the house to conduct vigorous oversight of these issues.

I'll be pleased to take any questions...Mike?

Mike: Regardless of the individual who told you that these techniques were being used and regardless of the venue in which you learned of this fact, does not the foreknowledge of the use of these techniques make you complicit in their use?

Pelosi: No. This is a policy that has been...was conceived and implemented by the Bush administration. The..the..they notified congress that they had legal opinion say that this was a...was legal but they would let us know whether they were planning to use what they briefed us on.

Uh, I think you can see by what mister uhm Panetta has sent out that it's really hard to confirm what did happen and the committees on jurisdiction may have to look into that. But it does not make me

Mike: But you said that Mr. Sheety (probably spelled incorrectly) did tell said that your staff did tell you...

Pelosi: He informed me that that briefing had taken place. We were not in a place where he could...that was all that he was required to do. We were not in a setting...we weren't in the...I'm no longer the ranking member of intelligence. He just informed me...and that the letter was sent. That is the proper person to send the letter...the ranking member of the intelligence committee.

So, my statement is clear (she looks down at her speech) and let me read it again. Let me read it again...Sorry. I have to find the...(reading) I was informed that the department of justice opinions had concluded that the use of enhanced interrogations was legal. The only mention of waterboarding was in the briefing was that it was not being employed...(stuttering, gathering)...When, uhm, my staff person...I'm sorry, the pages...5 months later my staff person told me that there had been a briefing, informing me that there had been a briefing and that a letter had been sent. I was not briefed on what was in that briefing. I was just informed that the briefing had taken place.

So, let's get this straight. The Bush administration has conceived the policy...uhm the CIA comes to the congress, withholds information about the timing and the use of this subject. We later find out that it had been taking place before they even briefed us about the legal opinions and told us that they were not being used.

This is a diversionary tactic to take the spotlight off of those that conceived, developed, and implemented these policies which all of us long opposed.

My action on it was to further to say we have to change the majority of congress. We have to win the white house so that we...

(The following insert is an excerpt from the online Wikipedia)
"Pelosi officially opposes the interrogation technique of waterboarding.[97] In one hour-long 2002 briefing, while Pelosi was the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, she was told about enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding authorized for a captured terrorist, Abu Zubaydah.[98][99][100] After the briefing, Pelosi said she "was assured by lawyers with the CIA and the Department of Justice that the methods were legal."[101] Two unnamed former Bush Administration officials say that the briefing was detailed and graphic, and at the time she didn't raise substantial objections[102]. One unnamed U.S. official present during the early briefings said, "In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to September 11 and people were still in a panic. 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.'"[102]

Officials in Congress say her ability to challenge the practices was hampered by strict rules of secrecy that prohibited her from being able to take notes or consult legal experts or members of her own staffs.[103] In an April 2009 press conference, Pelosi stated, "In that or any other briefing…we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used. What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel -- the Office of Legislative Counsel opinions that they could be used, but not that they would. And they further -- further, the point was that if and when they would be used, they would brief Congress at that time"[104][105] Pelosi's office stated that she later protested the technique and that she concurred with objections raised by Democratic colleague Jane Harman in a letter to the C.I.A. in early 2003."

Mike: ...(mumbling, unable to decipher) he did not tell you that he was informed that they were actually using the techniques.

Pelosi: No he DID say that. He said that the...the committee chair, uhm ranking member and appropriate staff (at the time, she WAS the ranking member) had been briefed that these, uh, techniques were now being used.

They...that's all I was informed...that they were being used and that a letter was sent. And that is a responsibility is different. I'm no longer the ranking member (not now, but she was then). Appropriately, the ranking member sent the letter.

So...let me say this...of all the briefings that I have received, at this same time they were misinforming me in September, the same time as briefing. They were telling the American people (raising her chin in superiority) there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and it was an imminent threat to the United States (when did we get to this topic?). To the limit of what I could say to my caucus I told them that the intelligence does not support the imminent threat that this administration is contenting.

So, it's on the subject of what's happening in Iraq, whether it's talking about the techniques used by the intelligence community on those their interrogating every step of the way the administration was misleading the congress and that is the issue. That is why we need a truth commission. To look into that.

Mike: Madam speaker, just to be clear, your accusing the CIA of lying to you in September of 2002?...

Pelosi: Yes. Misleading the congress of the United States. Misleading the congress of the United States. I am.

Mike: And doing it again now as they released this list of briefings that said you were briefed on the interrogation tactics...

Pelosi: I'm quoting what the head of the CIA said(she cannot possibly take any of the blame for her own actions and decisions. We don't know if this information is accurate. What they briefed us on...and perhaps they should release the briefings. I would be very happy if they would release the briefings. And then you will see what they briefed in one time and in another, house and senate and the rest...and perhaps with the intense interest that this has generated because of the distraction that the Republicans want to cause with this then you can make a judgement yourself at what you think these briefings were.

But, I'm telling you, that they had talked about interrogations that they had done and said "we want to use enhanced techniques and we have legal opinions that say that they are okay. We are not using waterboarding." That's the only mention that they were not using it. Any we now know that earlier they were. So, yes I am saying that they are misleading, that the CIA was misleading the congress. And at the same time, the administration was misleading the congress on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. To which I said "the intelligence does not support the imminent threat". To which the press asked the same question you just did now. "Are you accusing them of lying?" I said "I'm just stating a fact".

Press Woman: Do you wish you had done more? Do you wish you had written your own letter?

Pelosi: NO. No, No, No, No, No. I mean the point is is that we had the conversation. They told us they had legal opinions. As I say in my statement (looking down to attempt to read from her "statement") we now know what they didn't inform us then that there were other opinions within the executive branch that concluded that these interrogation techniques were not legal. So, no letter or anything else is going to stop them from doing what they are going to do.

My job was to change the majority in congress and to fight to have a new president because what was happening was not consistent with our values. Certainly not true. And, and, and, uh, certainly something that had to be changed. We did that. We have a new president. He says he's going to ban torture. When we won in '06 and passed legislation in that congress, President Bush vetoed that bill. I think we're in a whole different phase.

Press Man: With your desire to have a truth commission....doesn't this make it harder to go forward in that regard because so many on the other side have churned this issue up?

Pelosi: Well, I have always been for the truth commission, as you know. Others in the legislative branch have thought maybe the committees of jurisdiction should do that job. And until we have a truth commission and unless we have a truth commission they must do that. But it isn't...uhm, I think the truth commission would be a good idea. I think the American People want it. I think they want to know how we got to this place.

And that's why I say in this (her statement) "until we have a truth commission, the committees on jurisdiction whether it's the intelligence committee or the judiciary committee are the appropriate places for that to go. But, understand...and I don't know how you can fall prey to this...this is their policy. All of them. This is their policy. This is what they conceive. This is what they develop. This is what they implement. This is what they denied was happening. And now, they're trying to say..."don't put the spotlight on us. We told the congress."

(this insert is another excerpt from Wikipedia regarding Nancy Pelosi)
"In mid-July 2008, two days after President George W. Bush stated that Congress was relatively inactive and said, "This is not a record to be proud of, and I think the American people deserve better",[108] Pelosi responded by calling the president "a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the war, on the economy, on energy, you name the subject" and that Congress had been "sweeping up after his mess over and over and over again".[108]"

Well, they didn't tell us everything that they were doing. And the fact is that anything that we would say doesn't matter anyway. We had to change the majority in congress. We had to get a new president in order to change the policy. And that is what we have done. And I, as I say, have taken special interest in this issue over time, take pride in it, and the work that we have done on the issue of torture. So I was pretty sensitive to what they were briefing us and to what they said they were doing but they did not represent the facts.

Press Man: On healthcare, do House Democrats have the political will to raise taxes to reform healthcare?

Pelosi: We're putting everything on the table.
Well, that's about all of it I can take. Isn't it interesting that there is so much blaming and so little accomplishing that is really going to benefit our country.

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