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9/11 Commission Shield

Pelosi the Enabler

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Should the members of the 9/11 Presidential Commission not have been informed
that two of the “key witnesses” upon whom their report was based
had provided the information critical to the report’s conclusions only
after being waterboarded a total of 266 times? … In short, the basic narrative
of the origins and conduct of the 9/11 attack that so fundamentally perverted
American politics relied on cherry-picked information that the White House and
its operative in the field chose to release to the commission.

May 12, 2009
By Robert Scheer
Truthdig.com

Nancy Pelosi is no Dick Cheney, nor a George W. Bush. She was neither the author
of a systematic policy of torture nor has she been, like Cheney and most top
Republicans in Congress, an enduring apologist for its practice. It is a nonsensical
distraction to place her failure to speak out courageously as a critic of the
Bush policies on the same level as those who engineered one of the most shameful
debacles in U.S. history.

But what she, and anyone else who went along with this evil, as lackadaisically
as she now claims, should be confronted with are the serious implications of
their passive acquiescence. Why did she not speak up, or if it were a matter
of a lack of reliable information, demand an accounting from the executive branch,
as befits a leader of the loyal opposition in Congress?

If the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and later House
Democratic leader, lacked the authority to publicly question a policy of torture,
then how can we condemn, indeed imprison, ordinary soldiers who thought it their
duty to follow orders?

Even though Abu Zubaydah had been waterboarded 83 times before the September
2002 briefing of Pelosi, she now claims she was told only that the practice
might be used and that it had been approved by the Bush Justice Department as
legal. Wasn’t that approval in itself sufficiently alarming to justify
a strong and public dissent? Certainly that would have been the appropriate
response when Pelosi aide Michael Sheehy, along with Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif.,
were informed by the CIA in no uncertain terms five months later that Zubaydah
had been subjected to specific “enhanced” methods including waterboarding.
Pelosi admits to possessing that information, but according to one of her aides
quoted in Politico, after Harman’s letter questioning the practice received
“no response” from the CIA, “there was nothing more that could
be done.”

Why not? Does the CIA or the White House that directs its activities stand
above the law without any congressional restraint, as mandated by the U. S.
Constitution that Pelosi has sworn to uphold?

Should the members of the 9/11 Presidential Commission not have been informed
that two of the “key witnesses” upon whom their report was based
had provided the information critical to the report’s conclusions only
after being waterboarded a total of 266 times? On Page 146 of that report, there
appears a boxed disclaimer that even the commissioners, possessed of high security
clearances, were not allowed to meet, let alone cross-examine, the witnesses
or even talk with those who did the interrogations.

As the presidential commissioners conceded in their report, “We submitted
questions for use in the interrogations, but had no control over whether, when
or how questions of particular interest would be asked. Nor were we allowed
to talk to the interrogators so that we could better judge the credibility of
the detainees and clarify ambiguities in the reporting.”

In short, the basic narrative of the origins and conduct of the 9/11 attack
that so fundamentally perverted American politics relied on cherry-picked information
that the White House and its operative in the field chose to release to the
commission. As a result, we the public still know nothing of certainty about
the financing of the terrorist organization emanating from Saudi Arabia and
the UAE or the logistical support supplied to the Taliban and al-Qaida by agencies
of the government of Pakistan.

What the public was offered was not an unvarnished look at the available evidence
concerning the attack but rather a fear campaign justifying an undifferentiated
and illogically constructed international war on terror. As Steve Elmendorf,
chief of staff to Rep. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., the Democratic leader following
9/11, put it: “You have to remember, in the 2002 period, the whole atmospherics,
it was all about scaring people every day.”

That fear-mongering drove a majority of Democrats to support the president
in his invasion of Iraq, the one Arab nation where al-Qaida had been most brutally
oppressed by its sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with the
9/11 attack. The “key witnesses” affirmed that reality even after
being subjected to torture, which would have proven deeply embarrassing to the
Bush administration were it revealed in open court proceedings.

By acquiescing to the cover-up of unpleasant truths in the treatment of prisoners,
Pelosi contributed to the betrayal of the ideal of public accountability that
is the bedrock of our system of governance, which Congress is charged with protecting.