House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now denying knowing U.S. officials used waterboarding. However, a Washington Post story describes an hour-long 2002 briefing in which Pelosi was told about enhanced interrogation techniques in graphic detail. Former Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra (MI), who is now the panels ranking Republican says “if she did not know, she was not paying attention in the meetings. . . I’m puzzled, I don’t understand what she’s trying to say. I don’t have any sympathy for her — she’s the Speaker of the House; there should be some accountability. She shouldn’t be given a pass.” She is the only participant who did not hear “waterboarding.” Former CIA Director Porter Goss says she must be suffering from amnesia. Goss, who was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Pelosi was the ranking member, said: “The chairs and the ranking minority members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, known as the Gang of Four, were briefed that the CIA was holding and interrogating high-value terrorists. I do not recall a single objection from my colleagues.”
The members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees knew what was being done at Guantanamo. They supported it at the time. Now they want to be able to say “we didn’t know what was happening” to score some political points. Pelosi attended 30 briefings, and Hoekstra says “the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement.”
Another official present at the early briefings told the Post, “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.'”
Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO), ranking member of the Senate intelligence panel, called the Pelosi comments “frightening.” “The idea that a 10-year veteran of the intelligence committee would just rubber-stamp a program she thought was illegal or morally wrong is frightening, especially when the claim comes from a member who has never been afraid to challenge publicly the Bush administration. As members of Congress we have the constitutional authority and responsibility to take serious our oversight role.” Speaker Pelosi now wants the prosecution of Bush administration officials who signed off on the use of the techniques. President Obama previously said he was opposed to such prosecution, but now says it is up to Attorney General Eric Holder. Pelosi supports the creation of a “Truth Commission” to root out wrongdoing by the Bush administration on interrogations — putting her at odds with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Obama, who want the matter dealt with exclusively by congressional committees. Former Secretary of State James Baker said the type of panel Pelosi is seeking would America in the business of “criminalizing policy differences.”
In addition to waterboarding, Pelosi’s entire record on Iraq definitely puts her in the category of the hard core left. The U.S. invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003. While President Bush argued that he did not need congressional approval, ultimately both houses of Congress approved a resolution authorizing him to do so. The House vote of 10/10/02 was 296-133, and Pelosi opposed the war from the outset. Pelosi said Iraq had WMD but that did not matter to her. Some lawmakers were falsely claiming Iraq had a nuclear weapons stockpile, but if this had been true it would have made no difference to Pelosi.
From her work on the Intelligence Committee, Pelosi was well aware of the WMD issue. On 12/16/98 Pelosi said:
“As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”
On 11/17/02 Pelosi stated: “Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There’s no question about that.” She followed that up on 10/10/02 by saying: “I come to this debate, Mr. Speaker, as one at the end of 10 years in office on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was one of my top priorities. I applaud the President on focusing on this issue and on taking the lead to disarm Saddam Hussein. … Others have talked about this threat that is posed by Saddam Hussein. Yes, he has chemical weapons, he has biological weapons, he is trying to get nuclear weapons.”
Pelosi participated in numerous Iraq WMD briefings. Along with everyone else she assumed Saddam Hussein had them. Her argument was that Iraq should not be attacked because then Saddam would use his WMD. In October of 2002 she said: “I want to call to the attention of my colleagues a statement about Saddam’s use of chemical and biological weapons that was just declassified and sent to the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The question is: If we initiate an attack and he thought he was an extremist or otherwise, what is the likelihood in response to our attack that Saddam Hussein would use chemical and biological weapons? This is a letter from George Tenet, the head of the CIA to the committee. The response: Pretty high, if we initiate the attack.” She said we should not put our troops in harms way.
It also made no difference to Speaker Pelosi if Iraq invaded another country. On 1/12/91 the Congress authorized the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. The votes were 52-47 in the Senate and 250-183 in the House of Representatives.