No Wonder Impeachment Was “Off the Table”: Democrats Approved Mass Surveillance and Torture … and the Subsequent Cover-Up

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Pelosi Was Briefed On – and Covered Up – NSA Spying On Americans

When a teen asked Nancy Pelosi last week why she supports unconstitutional NSA spying, Pelosi responded that the NSA lied to Congress about what they were doing, and she didn’t know:

But Pelosi was actually briefed on – and approved – illegal mass surveillance by the NSA.

Last November, high-level NSA whistleblower Bill Binney confirmed to Washington’s Blog that Pelosi was briefed on NSA’s mass surveillance of Americans:

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: Is CBS right that you tried to warn Congress 10 years ago?

BILL BINNEY: Yes, first to Diane Roark (House senior staff assigned to monitor NSA) in late 2001, then, to a House Intel Committee member. Diane also talked to Porter Goss [then-chair of the House Intelligence Committee] and Nancy Pelosi [ranking member on the Intelligence Committee at the time] about it in the same time frame. This to me was the obvious reason Nancy said (when she was speaker) that impeaching George W was off the table. Cause she was part of it from the beginning.

Last week, Diane Roark confirmed that this was true:

WASHINGTON’S BLOG: Bill Binney explained in a recent interview that Pelosi refused to impeach Bush because she herself had signed off on mass NSA surveillance of Americans. Can you confirm Mr. Binney’s statement from your experience?

DIANE ROARK: Yes, Nancy Pelosi was one of the “gang of four” because she was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee in 2001 and for some time after that. So she gave the go-ahead to the Administration along with the others.

She now claims that the administration withheld information from her. However, I sent her numerous memos updating her as I learned more and giving background on the system. I did this through her staff director, who assured me he had given them to her. Her office claimed to the New Yorker in 2011, however, that she had not received the memos.

See this for Roark’s explanation of what the mass surveillance is really about, and Congress’ refusal to demand accountability or controls.

Pelosi Also Complicit In Torture

Pelosi was also complicit in torture. And yet she lied about that, also.

Nancy Pelosi claimed in 2009:

The Bush administration did not inform Congress that it had waterboarded detainees in classified briefings, after the agency had already done so…

 

Pelosi told reporters that the administration officials only told her and those in a classified briefing in the fall of 2002 that they believed they had the legal authority to do so, based on Office of Legal Counsel memos which have recently been released by the Obama administration.

 

“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,” said Pelosi. “What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel…opinions that they could be used, but not that they would.”

However, that is likely untrue.

As noted by the above-linked article at Huffington Post:

Her assertion contradicts a recently released Senate committee report that cited CIA records to claim that senior members of Congress in both parties were briefed on the waterboarding, which had already been done to detainee Abu Zubaydah.

Moreover, the Washington Post wrote in 2007:

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…

 

The CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private 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. With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi…

 

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

 

Abu Zubaida, the first of the “high-value” detainees in CIA custody, was subjected to harsh interrogation methods beginning in spring 2002 after he refused to cooperate with questioners, the officials said. CIA briefers gave the four intelligence committee members limited information about Abu Zubaida’s detention in spring 2002, but offered a more detailed account of its interrogation practices in September of that year, said officials with direct knowledge of the briefings.

 

The CIA provided another briefing the following month, and then about 28 additional briefings over five years, said three U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge of the meetings. During these sessions, the agency provided information about the techniques it was using as well as the information it collected.

Other Top Dems Also Complicit

It’s not just Pelosi … top Democrats like Harman and Rockefeller also knew all about spying and torture, and approved … or at least covered it up.

Cover Up of 9/11 Torture and Unreliable Testimony

Veteran reporter Robert Scheer wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007 that Pelosi and Harman hid from the 9/11 Commission and the American people the fact that the interrogations of 9/11 suspects were videotaped, and that the alleged “confessions” of those held at Gitmo were wholly unreliable. They could have stopped the whole farce cold — but chose to go along with it.

By way of background, the CIA’s torture program ended up deceiving the 9/11 Commission. Specifically, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand accounts of what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. The 9/11 Commissioners were not allowed to speak with the detainees, or even their interrogators. Instead, they got their information third-hand. The Commission itself didn’t really trust the interrogation testimony… yet published it as if it were Gospel.

New York Times investigative reporter Philip Shenon Newsweek noted in a 2009 essay in Newsweek that the 9/11 Commission Report was unreliable because most of the information was based on the statements of tortured detainees.

As NBC News reported:

  • Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
  • At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured.”
  • One of the Commission’s main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO READ
  • The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves

Indeed, the type of torture used by the U.S. on the Guantanamo suspects was of a “special” type. Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used Communist torture techniques specifically aimed at creating false confessions. And see these important reports from McClatchy, New York Times, CNN and Huffington Post.

No Wonder Impeachment Was “Off the Table”

No wonder Democrats “took impeachment off the table.” They were wholly complicit in Bush and Cheney’s crimes.