You can’t have it both ways Madam Speaker!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing back on GOP charges that she knew about waterboarding for years and did nothing.

Pelosi says she was briefed by Bush administration officials on the legal justification for using waterboarding — but that they never followed through on promises to inform her when they actually began using “enhanced” interrogation techniques.

So she says she got the legal justification, but they never told her they were actually going through with water boarding.

Well that’s a bit inconsistent with this 2007 Washington Post article:

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-CA), 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.

Way back in 2002, when Nancy Pelosi was actually rooting for us to win the war, she was happy for us to be water boarding terrorists. But in 2006, when she was more interested in winning back Congress for the Democrats than the U.S. actually winning a war, she decided to throw under the bus all the people who kept us safe.

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

25 Responses to You can’t have it both ways Madam Speaker!

  1. Jason Raines says:

    “Despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama bin Laden, there’s a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.”

    –CBS Sports golf analyst David Feherty

  2. TVNews says:

    I would love to see Nancy sent back to California to stay. However, if we do that then better then half the House is going home.

  3. Libby says:

    Hear Hear! And Yeah…no doubt in my mind she lied. She’s only making things worse with her current lame excuses!”They described the procedure to me, but they didn’t inform me that they were actually going to use it.” OH PLEASE! How I wish the House would vote to remove her from the office of Speaker! She’s becoming an embarrassment and/or a sad joke!

  4. Jason Raines says:

    What a shock: Pelosi lied!

    Looks like we need an ethics investigation, and to possibly remove Pelosi from office. According to newly released documents, she knew from the beginning about the EITs (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques).

    Check out Jed Babbins’ article on Human Events:

  5. Libby says:

    I’m with Jason. No surprise there. But then I’m also in agreement with the rest of you about darting Pelosi and releasing her back to the wilds. That “lady” is messing up “my” administration’s plans for just about everything! Forget “You Can’t Have It Both Ways, Madam Speaker”. I’d like her to remember that there can only be on President at a time–And she’s NOT IT!

  6. jimr says:

    Since this debate is about how we treat terrorists or enemy combatants, I thought you all might like to look at Lloyd Bailey’s blog post about Andrew McCarthy’s letter to the Obama Administration.  It is well written and a great read!

  7. Jason Raines says:

    The detention policies have been applied to everyone, citizen or not. In the instances where non-citizens are being held prisoner, or “detained”, the Supreme Court has ruled that Geneva Convention minimum standards shall apply. (They specifically went in this direction, rather than Article 4 which addresses spies.) Both citizens and non-citizens have been held in off-shore secret prisons for allegedly being “enemy combatants”. These prisoners are not accused of being spies. Or anything else, for that matter.

    While I disagree with the policies of the previous administration on this; I also disagree with Obama considering prosecution of Bush Administration officials for these policies. (The Nuremberg Trials set a dangerous precedent for overzealous prosecution of military men trying to be loyal to their country, in my opinion.) It’s time to simply change the policies and move on.

    Just for clarification, I voted for George W. Bush both times. I disagreed with his pursuit of undeclared war, and exercising of extra-constitutional powers; but felt the alternatives would have been worse for the nation. Of course, I am not giving W. a free pass, for what I perceive to be his shortcomings, either.

    Regrettably, I have not seen the TV show 24, so I shall refrain from commenting on that.

    I suspect that we all may agree on a great many other issues, and respect our differing views on treatment of detainees. Thank you for your thought provoking post and all the great comments from Eagle Watch and TVNews.

  8. jimr says:

    I think you are missing the point Jason, you are using terms like arrested and warrant, and that is wrong.  These terms are protections granted under The Constitution to U.S. Citizens, not foreign nationals who want nothing more than to destroy Americans and our way of life.  The whole issue with Gitmo surrounds this idea, that these individuals should be given the right of habeas corpus; among others.

    I respectfully disagree, they were non-uniformed enemy combatants, if we are to follow the Geneva Convention, then these individuals are to be considered spies, and with respect to my colleagues here, we all know spying, although admittedly a necessary evil, is not considered an honorable profession.

    Historically these individuals were not even afforded a firing squad, for this was/is considered a show of respect.  I believe the phrase was “Spies and saboteurs will be shot on site.” to coin a phrase from WWII.

    Say what you want about the Bush Administration and their tactics; however I believe in my heart that those actions went a long way to insure the safety of our country since 9/11.

    The interesting thing is, that if the terrorists were to attack us now, all of this debate would cease, the left would not have a leg to stand on, and all those individuals crying about civil rights for foreign nationals (enemy combatants) would disappear as well, and Heaven help Mr. Obama if one of the individuals responsible for the attacks was someone the Bush Administration had in custody at Gitmo.

    I think one of the reasons the television show 24 is so popular, is because Jack Bauer does what most Americans can’t or won’t do, yet, in their hearts they don’t want him to stop, because for him to stop means the end of life as they know it.

    If it is true that no one loves a soldier, till the enemy is lying at the gate, then it goes double for the spy trying to keep his/her country safe from the wolves.

  9. Jason Raines says:

    I don’t believe most Americans think citizens should be arrested in the middle of the night, without a warrant, sent away to a secret location without legal representation, and tortured. Call me crazy, I just don’t think the majority of Americans would vote for that.

    Now if you rephrase that to be “terrorists”, they may vote for that. However, that opens the door for tyranny. Political opponents could be labeled “terrorists” and simply disposed of.

    It’s not very “cloak and dagger” of me to believe in a free and open society, with the rule of law. Nor is it “cloak and dagger” of me to oppose secret police. Maybe you are right, maybe I am out of touch with most Americans that are voting away their Liberty.

    Perhaps that is why the Department of Homeland Security thinks I am a “right wing extremist”!

  10. TVNews says:


    Of course I would not fly planes into the offending country’s office buildings. That is what Cruise Missiles are for.

    I disagree with you most Americans do not hold stressing prisoners and values in the same sentence. If you talk to enough people outside of your political circle, you will find that most Americans do understand the need to protect our country and way of life.

    Let me ask you something. If you had a bad actor in your custody and you knew that they knew there was a ticking suitcase nuke planted in your city, where would you stop at getting that information?

    Are the lives of (depending on the city) upwards of two and a half million people worth upholding a personal moral choice? Perhaps you would should put that to a vote among the population about to be flash-cremated.

    Your belief that we are better then “them” is still well founded. This is clearly evident by looking at the score card when it comes to prisoner treatment.

    Number of web-cast beheadings:

    Al Queda and Co. – 8 (or more)

    United States and Allies – 0

    I fear the bad actors we are dealing with never studied “The Art of War.”

    If this really bothers you that much, then my suggestion is to go back to my original solution. Treat them as the Geneva Convention dictates and shoot them right then, right there and be done with it.

    One thing is more then evident here. Clearly you are not cut out for the cloak and dagger business. Gathering intelligence never has and never will be an operation akin to a gentleman’s duel. However the results are very similar, but on a nationwide scale.

  11. EagleWatch says:

    Waterboarding is not torture.  No permanent damage is done, and there is no real danger of drowning (only the perception).  A physician is in the room.  It was legal when practiced.  The leadership of both Intel Committees (House and Senate) knew about the practice.  Congress did give its blessings to the use of force in Iraq.  Other than nations in Western Europe and America, no one has observed the Geneva Conventions in their handling of POWs, regardless of their signatory status.

    Those are the facts.

    Jason, you may be against using torture, and you may be against using waterboarding, but that combination doesn’t make waterboarding torture.  Other examples cited include placing a caterpiller in a room with a prisoner, sleep deprivation and insults.  If these are seriously assumed to be torture, we might as well begin teaching Arabic to our children now.  

  12. Jason Raines says:

    Thanks for the reply TVNews,
    If I understand you correctly then, if the “whack jobs” hijack airplanes and send them into office buildings, then we should consider doing the same thing to them because we don’t have a treaty with them that says not to?

    I don’t think that’s the values system that most Americans have.

    If we disregard values as a rationale for our actions, then perhaps you would take another argument: a strategic or tactical view.

    If we treat prisoners humanely, then the enemy will be more likely to surrender on the battlefield, than to fight to the death.

    Sun Tzu said something similar, in regards to how to treat prisoners, in “The Art of War”. It’s been awhile since I read it, so I am paraphrasing.

    For me, the reason I can’t support torture of prisoners, comes down to my belief that we are better than they are. We can demonstrate this through our actions, and humane treatment of those in our custody. Members of our military that find themselves captured, will hopefully be treated better, because of the way we treat our own prisoners.

    If we mistreat ours, they will almost certainly mistreat theirs.

    Besides Sun Tzu, I would also recommend John McCain’s book: “Faith of Our Fathers”. While he does not go into graphic detail of his experience as a POW in Vietnam, he does devote significant attention to his years held captive there. Whether you agree with his politics or not, it is still a good read.

  13. TVNews says:


    Allow me to quote you, “Do other countries and groups need to sign on to the Geneva Convention for us to honor the values that we agreed to when WE signed it?”


    If the other team is not playing by the Marquis of Queensbury rules then we should not handicap any branch of our forces. That comes under the heading of bringing a knife to a gun fight.

    A big part of the convention was to limit injury and death among the civilian population. These people don’t care who they kill. And they could not possibly care less about following the convention.

    If we can get life saving information out of these whack jobs by making their lives temporarily uncomfortable, then I’m all for it. Once they sign on to the convention and then actually honor it, then we can talk about adjusting our policy.

  14. Jason Raines says:

    TVNews, Jim,
    Do other countries and groups need to sign on to the Geneva Convention for us to honor the values that we agreed to when WE signed it?

    Also, I think if we invade and occupy other countries we should at least have Congress pass a Declaration of War. It would help clarify WTF we are doing. (Oliver North and Ron Paul are two people who called for a Declaration of War after 9-11. I agree with them; in that it would have been the proper thing to do, from a Constitutional standpoint.)

    I am too young to have served in Vietnam, but when I was in training at Ft. Benning, I seem to recall some classes about officers being court-martialed for the way they treated the people there. Just sayin’!…

    Thanks for your reply comments.

  15. TVNews says:


    Had we adhered strictly to the Geneva Convention, all those out-of-uniform combatants we picked up would be dead. So as far as I’m concerned they already caught a break in that they are alive and able to complain about their treatment.

    However, that matters not. As Jim said, Al Queda and Co. never signed on to that agreement.

  16. jimr says:

    I will say one thing, this is exactly why I created this blog, I love the educated debate on both sides!

  17. jimr says:

    Jason, you of all people (having served) know that the Geneva Convention only applies to countries who signed the document.  Case in point Vietnam; however as I did not serve during that war, I will defer to EagleWatch.

    It drives me crazy when lay-persons who have not served, start throwing around the Geneva Convention as if it was the defacto “Law of War” – which anyone who has served in war knows, it is not.  That is not to say there aren’t rules which need to be adhered to; however each conflict has it’s own set of Rules of Engagement.

    Isn’t it Sun Tzu who said that the law of war is governed by the environment?  Forgive me if I miss quoted.

  18. Jason Raines says:

    TVNews, my point was about the specific definition argument the Bush administration used to justify doing whatever it wanted to prisoners. If you call it “interrogation” and try to say Geneva Conventions don’t apply, you are legally off base. That is why the Bush administration lost every case that made it to the Supreme Court involving the so-called interrogations of “detainees”.

  19. TVNews says:


    You are confusing punishment with interrogation. You should dig a little deeper into US history around the time of the revolution. In particular, you might want to focus on what those very same framers did to captured British and British sympathizers that were reluctant to share their knowledge with their captors.

  20. Jason Raines says:

    While I disagree with using water-boarding on prisoners in U.S. custody, I also disagree with prosecuting those who did so under the previous administration. The policy should be changed, and we should, as was said in other comments: “move on”.

    Eagle Watch, perhaps you disagree with the framers of the Consitution that outlawed “cruel and unusual punishment” in the Bill of Rights. There is not a specific definition of that, either.

    A study of history shows we have court-martialed officers for waterboarding prisoners in the past. (Such as was done in the Philippines). The change is that post 9-11, it has been done as OFFICIAL policy. This policy is inconsistent with historical American values.

    Having said that, Eagle Watch, your idea to dart Pelosi and re-release her to the wild sounds good to me!

  21. EagleWatch says:

    I think the majority agrees with you … unfortunately, those that don’t head committees. We need to dart Pelosi and re-release her back in the wild.

  22. jimr says:

    I agree with you completely Libby, and thanks for the comments!

  23. Libby says:

    I am very unhappy with this push to investigate the Bush Administration’s tactics used to extract intelligence from terrorists. Whether or not you classify the methods as torture at this point is irrelavent. It fills me with consternation to see the Democratic “Congresspersons” pushing this matter to the forefront and adding this distraction to the business at hand. Let the historians parse this matter with their hundreds of books they will write on the subject. Let the media talking heads blather on ad nauseum about it. It is not going to effect anything that is done hereafter. It’s a witch hunt and as Obama has cautioned can and will only serve to deepen the partisan chasm in Washington. Let it go, people. Move on and address more important issues. My opinion.

  24. jimr says:

    It’s unfortunate also that people like John Kerry are leading the charge when it comes to playing the blame game, it’s all smoke and mirrors, to avert attention to the real problem, and that is Congress’ inability to get things done, not to mention the guy who is steering the ship.

  25. EagleWatch says:

    Porter Goss, who would go on to become DCI, has commented that Ms Pelosi was one who thought we weren’t pressing hard enough.

    One aspect of this whole upcoming witch hunt that really rankles me is the people who take this “America doesn’t torture” attitude, but can’t point me to a definition of torture. Part of those briefings that the Speaker has decided to forget included information from the office of the legal councel that explored these very techniques and deemed them to be short of torture. In fact, the steps taken to make sure that no lasting damage was done (to include a physician in the room), were extraordinary. Indeed, we do not torture.

    This whole “get Bush” circus, in addition to demoralizing some of the best warriors we have, are bound to cut down on the number of prisoners we take — they will merely be KIAs when the smoke clears.