On Sunday, December 9, 2007, the Washington Post reported that in September 2002 four members of congress were briefed on “enhanced interrogation techniques” by the CIA—sweet talk for methods of torture. According to the report, the CIA provided a second briefing the following month, and 28 additional briefings over the following five years. Among the congressional delegation that was briefed was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif). Other members of congress briefed by the CIA were Jane Harman (D-Calif), who replaced Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV(D-W. Va.), Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).
Among the “techniques” that the legislators were briefed on was the infamous form of torture known as “waterboarding”—a method of torture that simulates drowning. In waterboarding, the victim is strapped to a board with his feet above his head. A clothe is placed over his mouth and nose, then water is poured over his face. This causes the victim to have the sensation of drowning, and is intensely horrifying.
According to the report, “Waterboarding as an interrogation technique has its roots in some of history’s worst totalitarian nations, from Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition to North Korea and Iraq. In the United States, the technique was first used five decades ago as a training tool to give U.S. troops a realistic sense of what they could expect if captured by the Soviet Union or the armies of Southeast Asia. The U.S. military has officially regarded the tactic as torture since the Spanish-American War.”
In spite of the fact that waterboarding has been clearly recognized as torture the world over, witnesses to the congressional briefings reported that at least two of the legislators asked if more severe measures could be taken. Pelosi refused to respond to her reaction to the briefing, but the only clear objection to the methods being used came from Rep. Jane Harman. Ms. Harman, who replaced Rep. Pelosi in the briefings in January 2003, filed a classified letter protesting the interrogation program. She was unable to protest publicly because the program was classified. “When you serve on [the] intelligence committee you sign a second oath—one of secrecy,” she said. “I was briefed, but the information was closely held to just the Gang of Four. I was not free to disclose anything.”
This report goes a long way towards explaining Pelosi’s insistence that “impeachment is off the table.” In my article “Democrats Fight Off Republican Vote to Impeach Cheney,” I ask the following questions:
“If Pelosi is willing to be dragged through the mud for bucking the will of the American people to protect Bush and Cheney, whose agenda is she conforming to? One might say she’s afraid of a possible backlash as a result of pursuing impeachment. But shouldn’t she be even more afraid of angering her constituents? So if she doesn’t fear the wrath of her constituents, the most liberal constituency in the country, whose wrath does she fear more?”
Now we can answer that question
decisively—she was afraid that if she pursued Bush and Cheney’s impeachment, her quiet acquiescence to a blatant war crime would be revealed. Her actions, or lack thereof, renders her just short of a co-conspirator—if not a co-conspirator, in fact.
This is yet another example of how the politicians, on both sides of the isle, are betraying the American people. It is clear that Bush and Cheney must be impeached to vindicate the American people before the world. As I’ve pointed out previously, Bush and Cheney must be impeached in order to restore the dignity and respect that the United States once enjoyed in the world community. By allowing these two to get away scot-free with all of the death, destruction, and mayhem that they’ve unleashed on the world, we’re, in effect, ratifying their behavior. We’d be telling the world that we approve of what they’ve done in our name—and if we do that, America is through as a purveyor of justice and democracy in this world.
If the United States is ever to regain its former stature in the world, it behooves the American to distance themselves from these monsters. We must impeach, arrest, and thereafter, offer them up to the world community for war crimes. And once that’s done, we should extend our most sincere apology to the people of this planet for all of the destruction we’ve allowed the Bush administration to commit in our name. That is the one and only way that the United States will ever again be safe from terrorism, and the only way it will ever regain its former stature in the world community.
But now, it seems, we have two other tasks—we must get rid of Pelosi, and find out how in hell the fourth estate allowed this story to die in just one day.
Eric L. Wattree
Eric L. Wattree, Sr. n can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.