Pelosi Media Frenzy Took Seventeen Months to Materialize

May 16th, 2009 3:01 PM

Nancy Pelosi has been under the media microscope this week regarding her knowledge of enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically waterboarding, in the months following 9/11. Pelosi's seemingly endless series of contradictions on the subject has led the media to probe: "what did she know and when did she know it?" But another question could easily be posed to the media itself ... "What took you so long?"

The precipitating event in this scandal is a December 9, 2007, Washington Post article titled: "Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002," in which the Post pointed a finger directly at Nancy Pelosi ...

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 briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.


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.

That same day, December 9, 2007, yours truly posted an article here titled: "Pelosi Knew About Waterboarding in 2002: Media Frenzy to Follow?" I wondered out loud whether the media would run with the Washington Post story - and even offered some follow-up questions for the media's consideration.

At the very least, somebody in the media should ask Pelosi directly if she was present for these 2002 meetings? Was she briefed about waterboarding and clandestine interrogation facilities? Did she tacitly approve of these procedures? And if not, what steps did she take to condemn them (other than self-serving press releases and attacks on President Bush years after-the-fact)? ... When did she first decide torture was useless? Is waterboarding torture? (These are just a few questions that come to mind, but certainly the trained experienced mainstream media will come up with more.)

For the most part, these questions were not asked in December 2007, and the story quickly died out. But, for whatever reason, the media are now on the job again. It is interesting to finally see some of these questions being asked - seventeen months after-the-fact.