Congress Was Briefed On Waterboarding In 2002 By Matt Margolis

This story from the Washington Post clearly proves how today’s objections to waterboarding, particularly from Congressional Democrats, is purely political grandstanding. When briefed on the interrogation techniques used against captured terrorists, the reaction from those in the room “was not just approval, but encouragement.” Even current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was there and “did not raise objections at the time.”

In September 2002, 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.

[…]

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 and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

Individual lawmakers’ recollections of the early briefings varied dramatically, but officials present during the meetings described the reaction as mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support. “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.”

And where does this newfound disapproval come from? The answer is obvious, and I’ve been saying it for a long time. Democrats have forgotten 9/11 and the lessons they should have learned from it.

“In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic,” said one U.S. official present during the early briefings. “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.’ ”

Only after information about the practice began to leak in news accounts in 2005 — by which time the CIA had already abandoned waterboarding — did doubts about its legality among individual lawmakers evolve into more widespread dissent. The opposition reached a boiling point this past October, when Democratic lawmakers condemned the practice during Michael B. Mukasey’s confirmation hearings for attorney general.

This article also proves that Republican lawmakers were speaking truthfully when they said members of Congress had been fully briefed on the interrogation methods used against captured and suspected terrorists. Opposition to the practice makes for good political theatre when trying to make a spectacle of Mukasy’s confirmation hearings, or what is bound to happen over the issue of the destroyed CIA interrogation tapes. The bottom line is this: Democrats knew about waterboarding and supported it. Their opposition to it today comes from their desire to further politicize the war on terror, and undermine our national security.

This content was used with the permission of Blogs for Victory.

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