Waterboarding. Sleep deprivation. Nudity. Loud noises. Flashing lights. Stress positions.
Am I the only one who thinks this sounds like any college dorm on a Saturday night, especially if you substitute “beer bonging” for waterboarding?
Not to make light of what is, to be sure, a serious subject, but honestly. Does anyone really believe that harsh interrogation techniques were all that secret? We’re talking DC here, don’t forget, a town where everybody knows everything.
To quote from the TV show West Wing: “There is no group of people this large in the world that can keep a secret. I find it comforting; it’s how I know for sure the government isn’t covering up aliens in New Mexico.”
Who knew these techniques were being used? The Wall Street Journal is reporting that lots of people knew:
“It was not necessary to release details of the enhanced interrogation techniques, because members of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.”
The Washington Post also reported on this back in 2007:
Yet long before “waterboarding” entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.
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.” [emphasis mine]
Why the sudden outrage? Why the push for trials and investigations into actions approved — and encouraged — by members of Congress? Do they really think that memories are so short; that Americans are so stupid? Speaker Pelosi should tread very carefully here with her talk of hearings and “truth commissions” and the like.
Her constituents might not like the things she approved back then. And then where would she be?
UPDATE: I must be channeling RightWingSparkle — she just posted on the same topic.