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Pelosi: The CIA ‘Misled’ Congress About Torture

The CIA has been saying it briefed the leadership of the Congressional intelligence committees in 2002 about the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on detainees like Abu Zubaydah. Its implication is that Congress tacitly or explicitly consented to the torture that interrogators inflicted on those detainees — and, implicitly, if the CIA is going to come under investigation for torture, CIA is going to bloody the noses of its critics in the process. At least two attendees of those briefings, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), say that the discussions of torture were only about what the CIA might do, not what it had already done. Marcy Wheeler has been on this for a while. But, you might say, of course Pelosi and Graham would deny knowledge of such a briefing, since it’s in their interest to not look as if they blessed torture when it was politically safe and oppose it now that it’s politically toxic.

Today, though, Pelosi openly dared the CIA to escalate. “I am saying that the C.I.A. was misleading the Congress and at the same the administration was misleading the Congress on weapons of mass destruction,” she said in a press conference. You can read Marcy on that, too. I’ve got a request out to CIA for a response and will post it when I have it.

Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Colin Powell, and Robert Windrem at the Daily Beast further develop the charge that the torture was about yielding information to justify the invasion of Iraq. (Wilkerson repeatedly refers to “my investigations” into Dick Cheney, which seems… bizarre. What investigations?) Josh Marshall thinks this, combined with Pelosi’s j’accuse, “has to create much more pressure to clarify what happened.” Let’s add one more piece to that — something that former State Department counselor Philip Zelikow said yesterday. Zelikow told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that when he argued in favor of scaling back the CIA’s interrogation regime, his bureaucratic counterweights in the Bush administration would reply, “We briefed the following members of Congress — name name name name name name name — and they didn’t have a problem with this.”

Zelikow is in favor of “a thorough inquiry” into the Bush administration’s experiment with torture, “yielding a public report.” That looks increasingly where this is going.

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