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May 13, 2009

Implausible Deniability: Pelosi's Lying, Close Source Confirms

Pelosi fake-frowned, Zubaydah fake-drowned.

A source close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now confirms that Pelosi was told in February 2003 by her intelligence aide, Michael Sheehy, that waterboarding was actually used on CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah.

Source says Nancy Pelosi didn't object about waterboard usage because she wasn't personally briefed about it.

As I had supposed: She was playing a game of plausible deniability with the CIA. She offered her support, or at least silence, in exchange for which the CIA went along with the charade of pretending she didn't know.

Plausible deniability has a long and often honorable tradition in spycraft. It allows high-ranking people to order actions without much fear of being compromised or embarrassed if those actions are revealed.

There is a catch, though: You can't start prosecuting the very same people you just secretly authorized to undertake such actions. Because, get this, then they'll stop pretending you didn't know and tell the world you did.

This appears to contradict Pelosi's account that she was never told waterboarding actually happened, only that the administration was considering using it.

"Appears," yeah. And that's not her "account," actually. That's her "second account," to be precise. It differs from her first and third accounts, and will surely also depart from her fourth.


This source says Pelosi didn't object when she learned that waterboarding was being used because she had not been personally briefed about it -- only her aide had been told.

The source said Pelosi supported a letter that Harman sent to the administration at the time raising concerns. The source asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of matters discussed in classified intelligence briefings.


"At that or any other briefing, and that was the only briefing that I was briefed on in that regard, we were not -- I repeat, we were not -- told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used, " Pelosi said on April 23.

In related news, somewhere a Mafia captain is testifying at a RICO prosecution, "Hey, I wasn't personally told my crew would be importing that heroin from Turkey. Sure, my lieutenant told me, but not actually the members of my crew doin' it. So, you know, I'm innocent 'n stuff."

Charles Schumer then:

And Id like to interject a note of balance here. There are times when we all get in high dudgeon. We ought to be reasonable about this. I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never, ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake.

Take the hypothetical: If we knew that there was a nuclear bomb hidden in an American city and we believed that some kind of torture, fairly severe maybe, would give us a chance of finding that bomb before it went off, my guess is most Americans and most senators, maybe all, would say, Do what you have to do.

So its easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when youre in the foxhole, its a very different deal.

And Charles Schumer now: Video from last month of Schumer agreeing to investigations and prosecutions.

Dianne Feinstein spins on behalf of Nancy Pelosi, and seems to advocate torture.... in the right circumstances:

I dont want to make an apology for anybody, but in 2002, it wasnt 2006, 07, 08 or 09. It was right after 9/11, and there were in fact discussions about a second wave of attacks.

Captain Ed asks if this defense of Pelosi is also a defense of Bush and Cheney. It's obviously not intended to be -- but it looks like a back-up defense is now in the works.

The Democrats' problem, of course, is that they want to prosecute Bush officials and CIA agents who performed EITs, but they have to distinguish those actions from the Democrats' own actions. They need to come up with some formulation that indicts Bush and the CIA, while absolving Rockefeller, Pelosi, et al.

It looks like Feinstein is groping at a time-based distinction. For reasons unfathomable, which I'm certain Democratic lawyers are trying to cobble together even as we speak, it turns out that "torture" was not illegal and not unconstitutional during the period of 2002 and 2003 (and possibly 2004), but suddenly became illegal and prosecutable in "2006, 2007, and 2008." Absolutely illegal, illegal under all circumstances. Except, of course, during the period when Democrats supported it. Sort of "absolutely illegal under all circumstances" but with some nuance in that "absolutely" and "under all circumstances."

They'll figure out the exact cut-off date for legal immunity later -- and this date will be the latest one upon which ranking Democrats provably supported the policy. The moment after that date of last provable Democoratic blessing of EITs, the actions became illegal and prosecutable.

But they'll be working with a narrow window -- waterboarding ended sometime, what, in 2004 or 2005? We might be looking at a five or six month window when 1) the technique was still be employed but 2) there is no record of Democrats contemporaneously supporting it. And for that short duration alone, waterboarding will have been absolutely illegal, and a gross violation of the Constitution, and repellent and deserving of highest punishment and so forth.

The Democrats will want to see all of the CIA minutes before the public does -- so they can determine the precise date upon which EITs became illegal, in advance of the public reading about it all first. This kind of argument is pretty sketchy, so they'll need a little lead-time in preparing the ground for it.

And I still don't think he's funny, even when he's beating up on Granny Rictus McBotoxImlants, but Jon Stewart gently breaks the news to his stupid and hyperliberal audience that Nancy Pelosi is lying to them.

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posted by Ace at 01:48 PM

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