A person who calls themself Ishmael Jones and is a 25-year veteran of the CIA’s writes in a blog at National Review Online that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has used the interrogation issue as a political tool for years, but says that the Agency’s Hill briefings are ambiguous and essentially unorganized:
In Mrs. Pelosi’s defense, CIA managers do not give fist-pounding briefings. They mumble, they dissemble, and there’s a lot of “on the one hand . . .” Its enormous numbers of employees have led to briefings being handled by groups, with vague chains of command, so that it may have been difficult to pin down what was said, when it was said, and who was in charge.
In recent years, CIA bureaucracy has appeared to favor the Left, while in the early decades of its existence it was perceived as a group of right-wingers dedicated to toppling communist dictators. In reality the CIA is loyal only to itself. As long as Mrs. Pelosi supported its bureaucratic lifestyle, it supported her, but when she attacked it, it fought back. The CIA may not be able to conduct efficient intelligence operations, but it knows how to survive.
It’s still the humble opinion of this blog that it sounds like Pelosi knew about waterboarding and other “harsh interrogation techniques” at a time when she could have sounded off and perhaps hastened their demise. Any investigation or truth commission into the executive excesses of the Bush Administration on these counts should include looking at the so-called watchdogs in Congress who didn’t have the stones to speak up.
Read the 9/11 Commission report or any of a dozen or more reputable books about the intelligence community before and even after the Twin Towers went down and there is ample evidence that the CIA, FBI and NSA dropped several balls that may have prevented 9/11. Congress’ utility as overseer is only as good as the information it collects. It’s incumbent upon Congress to organize its dealings with the CIA or any other federal agency in ways that get at the truth and do not merely serve as CYA for all involved.
(Source: Central Intelligence Agency)
There is a long tradition in Washington of making political hay out of our business. It predates my service with this great institution, and it will be around long after I’m gone. But the political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress.
Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.
(Source: CQ Transcriptswire)
(JOINED IN PROGRESS DURING PELOSI OPENING STATEMENT)
PELOSI: … take the time to read this to you. Throughout my career, I have been proud to have worked on human rights and against torture around the world. I say this with great pride because it has been a great focus of my time both even before I came to Congress and here.
(Source: Speaker’s Office)
“Throughout my entire career, I am proud to have worked for human rights, and against the use of torture, around the world.
“As Ranking Member of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in the 1990s, I helped secure the first funding for the Torture Victims Relief Act to assist those suffering from the physical and psychological effects of torture.
“I unequivocally oppose the use of torture by our government because it is contrary to our national values.
(Source: White House Press Office)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Well, thank you for the extraordinary welcome. And thanks, for those of you who prepared from the CIA gift shop — (laughter) — the t-shirts, the caps, the water bottles. (Laughter.) Michelle and the girls will appreciate that very much. (Laughter.)
It is a great honor to be here with the men and women of the CIA. I’ve been eager to come out here to Langley for some time so I can deliver a simple message to you in person on behalf of the American people: Thank you. Thank you for all the work that you do to protect the American people and the freedom that we all cherish.
The CIA is fundamental to America’s national security. And I want you to know that that’s why I nominated such an outstanding public servant and close friend, Leon Panetta, to lead the agency. He is one of our nation’s finest public servants, he has my complete confidence, and he is a strong voice in my national security team, as well as a strong advocate for the men and women of the CIA.
As promised, a Special Comment now on the president’s revelation of the remainder of this nightmare of Bush Administration torture memos. This President has gone where few before him, dared. The dirty laundry — illegal, un-American, self-defeating, self-destroying — is out for all to see.
Mr. Obama deserves our praise and our thanks for that. And yet he has gone but half-way. And, in this case, in far too many respects, half the distance is worse than standing still. Today, Mr. President, in acknowledging these science-fiction-like documents, you said that:
“This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke.”
“We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history.
“But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.
Mr. President, you are wrong.