Monday, May 18, 2009

Does It Matter What Pelosi Knew and When?

Last week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi revealed that she had been briefed by the CIA about waterboarding in September 2002, although she argues that there was little she could have done in response. While Pelosi has been a vocal and vehement critic of the Bush administration and waterboarding, but claims she saw little way of challenging the use of waterboading, and other controversial interrogation tactics, but to win control of Congress for the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, in her column yesterday, Maureen Dowd asserted that "the question of what Pelosi knew or didn’t, or when she did or didn’t know, is irrelevant to how W. and Cheney broke the law and authorized torture."

This is an absolutely absurd argument, because it completely misses the point. The critical question to understanding the debate surrounding the use of waterboarding is to determine whether waterboarding qualifies under existing US and international law as torture. That's what the OLC memos were attempting to do: define the parameters of torture and determine on what side of the line waterboarding falls. Now those memos were often fast and loose with the law, and display some seriously shoddy methodologies; but, that does not inherently make them illegal.

If the OLC and the CIA believed that Congress knew about their legal determinations and the use of waterboading, it's perfectly reasonable for both offices to assume that, in fact, there aren't any seriously problems with their legal rationales or the use of the technique. As Justice Jackson explained in the famous Youngstown decision (the Steel Seizure case during the Korean War), when the executive branch takes an action that is not contested by Congress, which in turn signals tacit approval or acceptance, the tendency is to assume that the action is in fact legal and within the purview of presidential power. By failing to act in any way to protest, block, or outlaw the use of waterboarding, congressional leadership sent a message of acceptance.

But what of Pelosi's claim that there was nothing she could do other than try to take control of Congress? The Democrats have controlled Congress since the midterm elections of 2006 and has not tried to outlaw waterboarding (Senator Kennedy tried to attach an amendment banning waterboarding that was rejected, and Congress passed a bill forcing the CIA to adhere to the techniques approved in the US Army Field Manual which was vetoed and not repassed). And since January 2009, the Democrats have controlled the House, the Senate, and the presidency...guess how many bills banning waterboarding have been passed?

It does matter what Pelosi knew and when. It does matter what stance on these issues Congress takes. Congress is the enacter of the laws, and the laws on torture are frustratingly vague and open to different interpretations. If Congress doesn't trust the presidency to interpret those laws acceptably, it is incumbent on Congress to pass clarifying legislation. When the executive branch acts with the knowledge of Congress and without protest, it is only right to assume that the action is legal.

As I have said several times before, if Congress REALLY cares about this issue, it must pass legislation outlawing waterboarding or restricting the CIA to the Army Field Manual techniques immediately. If it doesn't, it is placing its trust in an executive order issued by President Obama, an order than can be undone by a subsequent order. And does Congress really trust Obama -- the very same Obama who has kept the policy of extraordinary rendition, slowed the withdrawal from Iraq, revived the use of military commissions, invoked the states secret privilege, etc. -- that much?


jacksmith said...

STOP! The Attacks On Speaker Pelosi

Last time they tried to attack Speaker Pelosi ( second in line to the President of the United States) it was about her alleged abuse of military transportation. This attack as expected turned out to be bogus. It turned out that the previous Speaker (Hastert - a Republican) made far more use of military transportation. It turned out that Speaker Pelosi was possibly overly prudent and too self-restrained in her use of military transportation.

Now Republicans are trying to attack her about allegedly having been told by the Bush administration about things she was not told about, like water boarding. Republicans are attacking her because she is being so effective at getting the peoples work done in congress, like healthcare. And Republicans want to stop her. Don't put up with that. Every time they attack Speaker Pelosi they are attacking you and the rest of the American people. If they go after her, go after them even harder.

They are trying to con Speaker Pelosi and the American people. And here is how it works. Approximately 6 years ago CIA had a briefing with Pelosi and congress, but DID NOT tell congress and Pelosi that the Bush administration was using torture ( water boarding ) on detainees. Then the Bush administration sent in Porter Goss to head the CIA and to destroy, and doctor records in part to make it look like Pelosi, and the Democrats in congress were onboard with the illegal torture of detainees by the Bush administration.

See, apparently at these intelligence briefings members of congress are not allowed to take notes. And if they do, they are not allowed to keep them. Apparently the CIA makes notes, but the members of congress are not allowed to see those notes either. And they can't tell anybody about what was said at the briefings. But the CIA can come back six years later and claim they told members of congress something six years ago that they did not tell them at that time. And they can use falsified notes to substantiate their claim. Planting disinformation was the type of thing the CIA became very good at during the time Porter Goss was a young CIA agent. Just gotta love it. :-)

If you will remember, their was a mass exodus of senior CIA officials after Porter Goss took over. And the complaint at the time was that longtime, highly experienced agents were being replaced by other people based mostly on their political loyalties to the Bush administration and their extreme right-wing ideologies. Which is just exactly what you need if you want people who will be willing to break the law under orders. Sound familiar? I don't think you can trust any CIA records after Goss took over.

I have nothing but the utmost respect, and admiration for the dedicated and patriotic members of OUR! Central Intelligence Agency. When the Bush administration betrayed one of OUR! agents (Mrs. Wilson) it made me boiling MAD! I think our new Director Pennetta has got some internal investigation and agency house cleaning to do. If you backtrack on the individuals that have been making the false attacks on Speaker Pelosi, and trace who they have had contact and conversations with, you should be able to connect the dots and catch your conspirators.

The key that the CIA records are falsified is Sen. Bob Graham and his journal, and common sense. :-) By the way, I think Mr. Pennetta is an excellent choice to head the CIA and fix it.

They are trying to kill healthcare reform. And continue our healthcare crisis. Don't put up with that.


To The Congress Of The United States:

If it is true that you are not allowed to have or make any permanent records of your intelligence briefings for later clarifications, and protection, that is ridiculous. That leaves all of you vulnerable to just this type of scam that is being perpetrated on Speaker Pelosi. So here is what you can do about it to protect your-selves in the future.

Members should be able to make notes and other recordings of these briefings. Then these briefings and recordings can be reduced to a computer file that can then be encrypted and digitally signed with a detached digital signature using key encryption. Then each of you can encrypt, and sign each others copy of the record that can only be unlocked with the other parties key. And both parties copies can be verified with each others copy of the files detached digital signature.

Very easy. Very secure. No more exposure to falsified records down the road. :-)

You see, it almost doesn't really matter what CIA allegedly did or didn't tell Speaker Pelosi, and congress. Because the briefing format is so deficient of any checks, balances, or verification that all we know is that all external briefing accounts support Speaker Pelosi's version of events. Pelosi and congress should have been given every benefit of the doubt. And that should have been it.

There are many other booby traps out there set for you congress. Be careful.

God Bless You

jacksmith — WORKING CLASS

p.s. I still think the timing of Sen. Bob Graham's ruptured cerebral aneurism was suspicious. More so now, than before.

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