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So I was watching Glenn Greenwald on Bill Moyers and he mentioned that in 2002--2002--the CIA informed Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats that it planned to use abusive interrogation techniques, better known as torture. This might be common knowledge to some of you--the story broke in 2007--but I missed it. The news struck me with the force of revelation.

There's no chance that Obama and other Democrats would back a serious investigation into war crimes committed by the Bush-Cheney administration. To do so would be to launch a war on the political class's top-tier. It would lead to at least the shaming, and possibly the prosecution, of top Democrats.

The Washington Post broke the story last year:

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 Post asked Pelosi about the briefing:

Pelosi declined to comment directly on her reaction to the classified briefings. But a congressional source familiar with Pelosi's position on the matter said the California lawmaker did recall discussions about enhanced interrogation. The source said Pelosi recalls that techniques described by the CIA were still in the planning stage -- they had been designed and cleared with agency lawyers but not yet put in practice -- and acknowledged that Pelosi did not raise objections at the time.

She didn't recall discussions about torture? Oy. What Congressional leaders beside Pelosi were likely privy to the information?

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).

Under any circumstances, it'd be unlikely that Obama would launch a investigation into Bush-Cheney war crimes given its inevitable divisiveness. But the complicity of Democrats virtually ensures that the Bush-Cheney crimes will go unpunished. The blood on the hands of Dems is, as Greenwald says:

...the reason why the political class on a bipartisan basis is coming together to say, "Oh, no, we don't want to investigate these crimes. We think it's best to let it go." It's not because they're being magnanimous. It's not because they think it's important that Barack Obama be able to fix the economy undistracted by the controversies that would be created.

So please can we cease with these silly claims that the United States is a "nation of laws." The United States is a nation of laws only for the non-rich and the non-powerful. Here's Greenwald again. If you've merely skimmed this diary till this point, please focus as you read this:

We know that the president and his top aides have violated these laws. The facts are indisputable that they've done so. And yet as a country, as a political class, we're deciding basically in unison that the president and our highest political officials are free to break the most serious laws that we have, that our citizens have enacted, with complete impunity, without consequences, without being held accountable under the law.

And when you juxtapose that with the fact that we are a country that has probably the most merciless criminal justice system on the planet when it comes to ordinary Americans. We imprison more of our population than any country in the world. We have less than five percent of the world's population. And yet 25 percent almost of prisoners worldwide are inside the United States.

What you have is a two-tiered system of justice where ordinary Americans are subjected to the most merciless criminal justice system in the world. They break the law. The full weight of the criminal justice system comes crashing down upon them. But our political class, the same elites who have imposed that incredibly harsh framework on ordinary Americans, have essentially exempted themselves and the leaders of that political class from the law.

Originally posted to david mizner on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:07 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

    •  wouldn't that be refreshing. n/t (6+ / 0-)

      "Never say you know the last word about any human heart." - Henry James

      by RadioGirl on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:15:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If the briefings were classified, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      david mizner

      They would face revocation of their clearances and possible criminal prosecution if they talked, not to mention accusations (at the time) of treason by the Repukes.

      Understand, I am not justifying anything here, just sayin that Democratic complicity may be less than you think.  A lot of subjects were discussed with "the Democratic Leadership" on a classified basis.  I remember calls at the time for declassification.

      Ninth amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

      by UneasyOne on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:17:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It depends on the specifics (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tmo, esquimaux, agnostic, NonnyO

        And if there's lawbreaking, would they not have the legal responsibility to speak?

        But beyond the legal questions, there's no questions that in an investigation many Dems would be interrogated (the non-waterboading kind) and at least embarrassed.

        •  If a crime is being committed, or (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tmo, carolita, NonnyO, david mizner, notcaesar

          if the constitution is being threatened, then the classification and silence requirements go out the window. Except under Bush.

          What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

          by agnostic on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:23:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hard to unwind (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Moody Loner

          If an administration admits violating the law - but classifies that admission top secret - where does the legal responsibility lie?

          I'm no lawyer, but I would think that congressional investigations/oversight would have been the only way around that, but it would still leave the administration in a position to strip Democratic leaders of security clearances - making it very difficult for them to do their jobs.

          That would seem to make impeachment the only alternative.  Oops, sorry.  Off the table.

          Ninth amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

          by UneasyOne on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:28:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Dem leadership in Congress is pathetic (5+ / 0-)

      They are quite possibly the worst leadership in the history of Congress.
       We finally get the Repubs out and now we have to deal with even more incompetence.

      "The people have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want & the courage to take." - Emma Goldman

      by gjohnsit on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:25:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  At this point.... (5+ / 0-)

      ... I no longer care if Pelosi and Harman and the other Dems who consistently cave in to the f**king Repukes get taken down with them.

      Politicians are NOT an exempt class of people from the rule of law.  They knew about the illegality of the Iraq invasion and that illegal torture was going on even before we did.  That makes them accomplices to the lies and war crimes of Georgie and Dickie and their cohorts.  I would have been willing to conditionally forgive them if Pelosi had let impeachment proceedings begin, but she didn't.  Nor did Conyers, the head of HJC.

      So, if the Dems go on trial right next to the Repukes, it serves them right for not speaking out against the lies and war crimes right from the beginning, for refusing to impeach Dickie and Georgie.

      I still want justice for the dead who died in vain for lies and torture for oil, and for those who were maimed for life because of lies and torture for oil and the profit margins of US oil corporations and mercenary corporations (Halliburton, DynCorp, KBR, Blackwater, et al.).

      The foreknowledge of lies and torture has to be why Pelosi brought the FISA fiasco back to life and to the floor of the House unexpectedly, without giving anyone a chance to study it, and why Harman spoke against it but voted for it, why Pelosi limited the "debate" to one hour and the House passed that POS legislation and then sent it to the Senate the same day, has to be why the senators also spoke against it but passed it anyway.  And, of course, it's why Pelosi said in '06 that impeachment was off the table....

      If the Dems are covering for the Repuke lies and war crimes, they deserve to go down with the Repukes, and to be put on trial as accomplices for lies and war crimes right next to them.  The "journalists" and news organizations who have refused to cover these stories to protect (1) Repukes and (2) possible Dem accomplices also deserve to be tried for covering up the lies and war crimes while they gave us infotainment "news" about trivial crap for nine bloody years.

      Then maybe we can elect BETTER Dems.

      I'm tired of hanging my head in shame for the lies and war crimes and torture that has been going on with no accountability for said lies and war crimes, no investigations into same lies and war crimes, no trials for lies and war crimes.

      To repeat myself:  I no longer care if the Dems with foreknowledge about lies and war crimes and torture go down with the Repukes; they need to resign or be put on trial next to the Repukes, and we need to elect Dems with some ethical and moral standards and ability to tell us the truth and politicians who will abide by their oath of office.

      And I want accountability for the lies and war crimes and torture and other high crimes and misdemeanors of the last eight years.

      (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

      by NonnyO on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:03:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO

        I wouldn't care if they go down but they won't.

        Impunity for the political class.

        •  Then shame on us, the voters.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MomFromHlwdFL

          ... if the constituents of said Dem Reps and Senators continue to re-elect them, even knowing they are covering for Dickie and Georgie and their criminal cohorts.

          We deserve better, but we have to stop shrugging and whining "Well, what can we do?"  We can vote the cretins out of office or demand their resignations as accomplices of Dickie and Georgie.

          (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

          by NonnyO on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:11:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  This is supposedly (0+ / 0-)

      why Bush didn't think he needed to issue pardons for those involved in torture: he concluded that the Democrats would be too ashamed too investigate.

      He was right about that.  

  •  obviously (9+ / 0-)

    US torture policies are not new, ask any Latin American leftist, and both parties are involved. It is unrealistic to expect charges or investigations when we have not had a transfer of power, only an internal rearrangement of chairs in the Poliburo.

    Law is a light which in different countries attracts to it different species of blind insects. Nietzsche

    by Marcion on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:11:41 AM PST

  •  and letting the diarist below you know why (0+ / 0-)

    her piece is a non story

    Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources; too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress.

    by publicv on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:12:05 AM PST

  •  that's how they continually get away with the (5+ / 0-)

    worst stuff, everyone with any power has their hands dirty.  It's not just Bush administration crimes either, goes way back.

    I like Michelle more than Barack.

    by duha on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:15:37 AM PST

  •  I vaguely recall that in 2007... (14+ / 0-)

    Jane Harman tried to defend herself and fellow Democrats by saying that the reason they didn't inform anyone about the torture was because they had been forbidden by the Bush administration from doing so.

    It was basically, "Gee, we sure wish we could have told our Congressional colleagues and our constituents, but they said we couldn't, so our hands were tied."

    Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah, 'cause we just kicked your silly winking folksy lipsticked ass back to Alaska. Now shut the fuck up and stay there. Also.

    by Kaili Joy Gray on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:16:11 AM PST

  •  Graham, JelloJay, Harman,Roberts, and Goss (6+ / 0-)

    You can't trust a word any of them says about any of this, and Pelosi also.

    The rumors of Harman going into the Obama Cabinet made my stomache turn, I hope they are just rumors..

    As for Goss, I thought he would be in prison by now...

    President Theodore Roosevelt,"No man can take part in the torture of a human being without having his own moral nature permanently lowered."

    by SmileySam on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:18:05 AM PST

  •  Surprised you didn't know this david (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pontechango, esquimaux, david mizner

    Specifically do a google search for:

    torture "gang of four"

    It wasn't just Pelosi.

    I demand prosecutions for torture.

    by heart of a quince on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:20:27 AM PST

  •  I Will Just Say, Glenn Greenwald Is The Man (7+ / 0-)

    if his site at Salon isn't bookmarked and you don't check it daily then you are not a liberal IMHO. He has been telling us this shit for a long, long time. Just seems not a lot of folks are listening.

    "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle

    by webranding on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:21:43 AM PST

  •  Not my problem. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    heart of a quince

    I never condoned torture, nor do I condone Nancy.

    Or Harry.

    Or the asshole Rumsfeld.

    I am not part of the torture thing.

    I help poor people.

    Under any circumstances, it'd be unlikely that Obama would launch a investigation into Bush-Cheney war crimes given its inevitable divisiveness.

    Sorry about those annoying laws that were broken and all those people who were damaged and killed during their TORTURE but it would just be too divisive to enforce the law.

    Stupid fuckers.

    That is the sound of Appeasers.

  •  unfortunately, we at dKos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, rlochow

    have quite a lot of work to do.

    Unfortunately,  Jane Harman,  John D. Rockefeller, Porter J. Goss  and Sen. Pat Roberts are not exactly stellar on the issue of torture or bad actions by government. And remember who was doing the presentation - the same people who bought reporters and journalists, planted fake intel items in newspapers, illegally released fake news items, bribed and threatened some media folks, purchased en masse, a whole slew of retired generals and high ranking officers (many of whom work in the military industrial complex or act as lobbyists) and used every such avenue to paint a fake picture about the reality of the middle east and the threats we face.

    How likely is it, given the above, that they also misled Congresscritters and senatwhores and lied to them? They certainly lied to us and the rest of the world. Somehow, I can't see Addington or Bolton taking aside Harmon and saying "A is absolutely true, and B is what we are using for public consumption."

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:22:18 AM PST

  •  And why Impeachment (13+ / 0-)

    was taken off the table because they are all involved. They all knew and didn't have the balls to stand up to the Bush crime family.

  •  What you have is a culture of secrecy which (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eztempo

    enmeshes our public officials in a web of guilt.  They're guilty if they don't object to clearly illegal activity and they're guilty of treason if they reveal it.  There's no way out but to reveal the secrecy and put a stop to it.  We have to have a truth and reconciliation process.

    Whatever happened before, the October 2001 executive order limiting the dissemination of classified information to the Gang of Eight is what started us down the slippery slope.

    Keep in mind that JFK ordered that missiles not be deployed in Turkey.  The Pentagon did it anyway.  That was the precipitating reason for the Soviet deployment of missiles to Cuba.  The agreement to remove missiles from Turkey was a secret codicil to the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Why didn't Kennedy reveal that the civilian leader of the nation had been disobeyed by the military?  It was a judgment call.  We shouldn't second guess it, but we should keep it in mind when we consider the effects of secrecy.

    There's a difference between telling everything you know and hiding embarrassing information or developments.
    If rendition was in effect during Clinton/Gore, how was Pelosi supposed to respond to the information that it was still going on?

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:28:25 AM PST

    •  Rendition is somewhat (0+ / 0-)

      trickier perhaps given its longer history.

      •  None of this is tricky (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        david mizner

        Its all as simple as it is wrong.

        I demand prosecutions for torture.

        by heart of a quince on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:39:30 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're asking people to choose between their (0+ / 0-)

          own safety and their effectiveness and another's safety.

          The notion of personal potency is very compelling.  It's easy for people rationalize "if someone else is put in my place will he be more responsible and conscientious than I?"  

          One's own virtue or intent to do good often trumps what's momentarily right.  It really isn't simple when other people's lives are on the line.  Who's interest would be served, for example, by Pelosi's power being trashed?  It seems that hardly anyone thought she should be replaced by Cindy Sheehan.

          How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

          by hannah on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:38:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  According to whom? (0+ / 0-)

    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.

    Think about that for a moment.

  •  Accountability MUST happen. (4+ / 0-)

    We MUST push for it, and keep pushing until it happens. We have a responsibility.

    All those involved in the Bush torture regime must be held accountable, whether Republicans or Democrats.

         Standing for justice and acountability,
                 For Dan,
                 Heather

  •  I concluded that nancy and the gang of four (5+ / 0-)

    are complicit in tortured and, possibly, worse nearly a year ago. But I am now at the point of thinking that anyone who supports her, either for House Speaker or for her pet programs, is complicit in the cover-up.

    I have to say, I have no more respect for nancy or harry than I do for shrub. If anything, shrub is a little higher because he at least set and achieved his agenda, reprehensive though it may have been. All nancy and harry did was go along, meekly obeying when shrub spoke.

    "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." -- Elie Wiesel

    by carolita on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:34:32 AM PST

  •  I had the impression from the beginning, when (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eztempo, esquimaux

    we learned that Pelosi and Rockefeller were fully aware of the torture, that the reality is that they were given access by the administration only to comply with the loosest sense of the law and that by giving the briefings, the administration was better able to say that they knew and didn't care.

    What legal avenues did Pelosi have?


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 11:49:11 AM PST

  •  In August of 2005 I asked if we had evidence (0+ / 0-)

    of a coup.

    http://hannah.smith-family.com/...

    THE WHITE HOUSE

    Washington

    October 5, 2001
    MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE
    THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY
    THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
    THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
    THE DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
    THE DIRECTOR OF FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

    SUBJECT; Disclosure to the Congress

    As we wage our campaign to respond to the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, and to protect us from further acts of terrorism, I intend to continue to work closely with the Congress. Consistent with longstanding executive branch practice, this Administration will continue to inform the leadership of the Congress about the course of, and important developments in, our critical military, intelligence, and law enforcement operations. At the same time, we have an obligation to protect military operational security, intelligence sources and methods, and sensitive law enforcement investigations. Accordingly, your departsment should adhere to the following procedures when providing briefings to the Congress relating to the information we have or the actions we plan to take:

    (i) Only you or officers expressly designated by you may brief
    Members of Congress regarding classified or sensitive law
    enforcement information; and
    (ii)The only members of Congress whom you or your expressly designated
    officers may brief regarding classified or sensitive law enforcement
    information are the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader,
    the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairs and Ranking
    Members of the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate.

    This approach will best serve our shared goals of protecting American lives, maintaining the proper level of confidentiality for the success of our military, intelligence, and law enforcement operations, and keeping the leadership of the Congress appropriately informed about important developments. This morning, I informed the House and Senate leadership of this policy which shall remain in effect until you receive further notice from me.

    (Signed) George Bush

    Note that the VP is not mentioned.

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 12:11:31 PM PST

  •  holding Pelosi accountable on torture is (0+ / 0-)

    a prerequisite for justice in this area.

    Obama says (and promised our own attytood) he wants to pursue justice, just not a "partisan witch hunt".

    Unless that's slimy spin for no accountability, he'll require complicit Democrats to testify, be held accountable, and acknowledge the lapses in their vows to uphold the law and the constitution.  This can happen in a "truth and reconciliation" hearings or through criminal prosecution.

  •  I saw Greenwald on Maddow's show (0+ / 0-)

    and learned the same thing.  Unfuckingbelievable.  

    And I agree because of their complicity, the republicans and especially the Bush administration will also get off scott free.  

    I want Pelosi / Leprosy (with apologies to actual lepers as opposed to metaphorical ones) impeached and it will never happen.

    I wonder if we'll ever actually demand justice?  What is it going to take before we do?

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