House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D Cal) acknowledged yesterday that in 2003 she was told by an aide that the CIA had briefed others in Congress that water boarding had been used during interrogations. But she insisted, contrary to the CIA's accounts of the facts, that she was not told about water boarding during a 2002 briefing by the CIA. Was she accusing the CIA of lying? She said, "Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States."
She said she was told at that 2002 briefing that water boarding was not used on Abu Zubaida. Porter Goss, former congressman (R Fla.) and later CIA director (2004-2006), said last month that he was "slack jawed" by lawmakers claims that they were not fully informed about water boarding.
There's an old dilemma to this kind of thing. The government invites some congressmen in for a top, top, top, secret, secret, secret, hush, hush, hush briefing. "You can't talk about this," the lawmakers are told. "This is so secret that, if you talk about it, Americans will die. You cannot talk about this!"
Then, of course, a year or two down the road the operation, the technique, the whatever it is leaks out. This just about always happens. But by the time it happens the war in which the secret was used may be over. Old enemies have become friends and vice versa. The Congress, thundering down the trail a few years late, wants to know what the hell was going on.
Now, what should Congressman "X" do? Does he break his word or does he lie? Does Congressman "X" admit what he knows? He promised the Executive Branch he wouldn't, but that war is over now. What harm could it do?
We may be about to find out.
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