Memoir Published By Former CIA Counterterrorism Chief Says Rep. Nancy Pelosi Lied, Saying She Had Not Been Briefed About USA’s Waterboarding Torture Technique

May 1, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – In an explosive memoir released today, former CIA counterterrorism chief Jose Rodriguez provides new evidence that Rep. Nancy Pelosi lied when she declared she had not been briefed about the use of waterboarding.

Recall that in a Capitol Hill news conference three years ago, Pelosi (D-Calif.) vehemently denied being told about the use of waterboarding at a CIA briefing in September 2002. “We were not — I repeat — were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used,” Pelosi said. She later changed her story, telling reporters, “We were told explicitly that waterboarding was not being used.” She claimed she learned about the use of waterboarding the following year, only after other lawmakers were told by the CIA. “I wasn’t briefed, I was informed that somebody else had been briefed about it,” she said.

If Rodriguez is right, each of these statements is false. But other than a chart released by the CIA noting that Pelosi, then the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, and Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), then chairman of the committee, had been given a “description of the particular [enhanced interrogation techniques] that had been employed,” there was little public evidence to contradict Pelosi’s claims. So she got away with it — until today.

In his new book, “Hard Measures,” Rodriguez reveals that he led a CIA briefing of Pelosi, where the techniques being used in the interrogation of senior al-Qaeda facilitator Abu Zubaida were described in detail. Her claim that she was not told about waterboarding at that briefing, he writes, “is untrue.”

“We explained that as a result of the techniques, Abu Zubaydah was compliant and providing good intelligence. We made crystal clear that authorized techniques, including waterboarding, had by then been used on Zubaydah.” Rodriguez writes that he told Pelosi everything, adding, “We held back nothing.”

How did she respond when presented with this information? Rodriguez writes that neither Pelosi nor anyone else in the briefing objected to the techniques being used. Indeed, he notes, when one member of his team described another technique that had been considered but not authorized or used, “Pelosi piped up immediately and said that in her view, use of that technique (which I will not describe) would have been ‘wrong.’ ” She raised no such concern about waterboarding, he writes. “Since she felt free to label one considered-and-rejected technique as wrong,” Rodriguez adds, “we went away with the clear impression that she harbored no such feelings about the ten tactics [including waterboarding] that we told her were in use.”

So we’re left with a “he said-she said” standoff? Not at all. Rodriguez writes that there’s contemporaneous evidence to back his account of the briefing. Six days after the meeting took place, Rodriguez reveals, “a cable went out from headquarters to the black site informing them that the briefing for the House leadership had taken place.” He explains that “[t]he cable to the field made clear that Goss and Pelosi had been briefed on the state of AZ’s interrogation, specifically including the use of the waterboard and other enhanced interrogation techniques.”

Rodriguez asks, “So Pelosi was another member of Congress reinventing the truth. What’s the big deal?” The big deal, he explains, is “the message they are sending to the men and women of the intelligence community who to this day are being asked to undertake dangerous and sometimes controversial actions on behalf of their government. They are told that the administration and Congress ‘have their back.’ You will forgive CIA officers if they are not filled with confidence.”

Rodriguez compares Pelosi’s actions to the opening scene of the old TV series “Mission: Impossible,” “in which the operatives were told that if anything went wrong, their leaders would ‘disavow any knowledge of your actions.’ That is not how it should work in the real world,” he writes.

It is a big deal for another reason. If Rodriguez is right, it means that Pelosi stood up in a Capitol Hill news conference and lied with a straight face to the American people; that she falsely accused a dedicated civil servant of lying to Congress as part of a political cover-up. Pelosi is hoping to become House speaker again after the November elections. Do we really want someone so ethically challenged to be third in line to the presidency?

There is a simple way to settle this once and for all. Pelosi should formally request that the Obama administration declassify the cable that was sent from headquarters to the field reporting on the details of her Sept. 4, 2002, briefing. If she refuses to do so, it should be taken as an admission by Pelosi that her account of events is a fabrication.

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Lies: White House Website Still Advertising Broken Obama Promise To Cut Deficit In Half

February 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – When President Obama unveiled his budget on Monday, it became clear that he would break his pledge to cut the deficit in half in his first term in office. But the White House website is still prominently touting the promise.

When visitors to the White House website click on “Fiscal Responsibility” under the “Issues” section, they are directed to a page that includes the following:

Cut the deficit in half by the end of the President’s first term. On January 20, 2009, the President inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit. The President has put forth a budget that will halve this deficit by the end of his first term, bring non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level as a share of GDP since 1962.

Though that would mean cutting the deficit to $650 billion, Obama’s budget projects deficits of $1.3 trillion in fiscal year 2012 (ending this September) and $901 billion for fiscal year 2013. Non-defense discretionary spending is not at the lowest level since 1962, either (more like 2008 or 2001, depending on whether you’re comparing it to this year or next).

This was brought to my attention by blogger Pundit Pete, who also notes that when pressed on this broken promise on Fox News Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew tried to chalk it up to the economic picture having deteriorated after Obama made the initial pledge, stating, “as the 2009 and 2010 went on, we all learned more about the deep of the recession we inherited, which we have very — worked very hard to dig out of.”

Of course, this doesn’t explain why the White House website continues to promote the pledge, knowing what we know now.

Ironically, the White House website also includes this vow:

Return to honest budgeting. Too often in the past several years, budget tricks were used to make the government’s books seem stronger than they actually were. The President put forward a budget that rejects many of these gimmicks, most notably, the exclusion of war costs.

But in reality, one of the biggest gimmicks in Obama’s budget is that it relies on phony “war savings,” which pretends that the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan would be fought at full force in perpetuity and counts money that would have never been spent anyway as deficit reduction.

Looks like the White House website could use some updating.

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Full Of It – Disgraced U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Claims He Knew Nothing Of His Department’s Efforts To Arm Mexican Drug Cartels

February 2, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Eric Holder vigorously denied a “cover-up” by the Justice Department over “Operation Fast and Furious,” telling a House panel investigating the botched gun-running program that he has nothing to hide and suggesting the probe is a “political” effort to embarrass the administration.

“There’s no attempt at any kind of cover-up,” Holder told lawmakers well into a hearing about whether he had been forthright in responding to requests of the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

“We’re not going to be hiding behind any kind of privileges or anything,” he said.

The hearing came after Issa and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, his Senate partner in the probe, asserted that top Justice officials are covering up events surrounding the flawed gun-smuggling probe.

Issa made the accusation in a letter threatening to seek a contempt of Congress ruling against Holder for failing to turn over congressionally subpoenaed documents that were created after problems with Fast and Furious came to light.

Republicans also released a report in the hours ahead of the hearing claiming that Justice Department officials “had much greater knowledge of, and involvement in, Fast and Furious than it has previously acknowledged.”

Asked whether his assistants, Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler or Assistant Attorney Lanny Breuer, head of the department’s Criminal Division, ever authorized gunwalking or the tactics employed in Fast and Furious, Holder responded not to his knowledge.

“Not only did I not authorize those tactics, when I found out about them I told the field and everybody in the United States Department of Justice that those tactics had to stop. That they were not acceptable and that gunwalking was to stop. That was what my reaction [was] to my finding out about the use of that technique,” he added.

He added that he doesn’t think that the situation warranted the kind of response Republicans were giving after his department provided thousands of documents, and planned to deliver more.

Holder also rejected arguments that his handling of the case had lost him any support for the effort he was putting forth as attorney general.

“I don’t think the American people have lost trust in me. … This has become political, I get that,” he said.

But Holder also said no one has been punished “yet” in the case, despite the fact that lost guns from the operation ended up at the crime scene where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered in December 2010.

Terry’s family has informed the U.S. government that it has six months to respond to its inquiry into Terry’s death or face a $25 million lawsuit.

In the botched operation, more than 1,400 weapons sold to low-level straw purchasers believed to be supplying Mexican drug gangs and other criminals were lost during tracking by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents. Another 700 firearms connected to suspects in the investigation have been recovered, some from crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., including in Nogales, Ariz., where Terry was killed.

Holder said he didn’t learn about Terry’s murder until 24 hours after his death, and at the time did not hear that weapons tied to Fast and Furious were at the scene.

“I didn’t know about Operation Fast and Furious until the beginning parts of 2011 after I received that letter from Senator Grassley, I guess at the end of January and then that was about Operation Gun Runner. I actually learned about the Fast and Furious operation in February of that year.”

Holder told the committee, “I’m not sure exactly how I found out about the term, ‘Fast and Furious.'” He testified repeatedly that he never authorized the controversial tactics employed in the operation.

“There is no attempt at any kind of cover-up,” Holder said. “We have shared huge amounts of information” and will continue to do so, he said.

But Holder said under questioning that he has not disciplined anyone for his role in the controversial operation.

“No I have not as yet — as yet,” Holder said when questioned by Issa on the matter. “There have been personnel changes made at ATF. We obviously have a new U.S. attorney in Arizona. We have made personnel switches at ATF. People have been moved out of positions.”

Holder’s statements on the Justice Department’s role in the operation did not sit well with Republican lawmakers on the committee, who accused the attorney general of intentionally withholding key documents in the case.

“The conclusion that I come to is there are some things in there that’s being hidden that you don’t want us to see,” said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. “We have every right under the Constitution to check on what you’re doing… So for you to deny this committee anything like that is just dead wrong and I don’t think you’re going to find any way that you can do it.”

Burton went on to say that 93,000 documents related to the operation are being withheld by the Justice Department even though they’ve been turned over internally to the department’s inspector general, a political appointee, Burton said.

“And you’re saying, well, the separation of powers prohibits you from (delivering them to Congress). That’s baloney. That is just baloney,” Burton said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, also questioned Holder’s having not discussed the case with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“When people know that I’m going to be the subject of these kinds of hearings, you know six times and all that, nobody necessarily wants to get involved in these kinds of things or get dragged into it,” Holder responded.

Issa told Holder the committee will do what is necessary to obtain the information, “If you do not find a legitimate basis to deny us the material we’ve asked for.”

Holder said earlier during testimony that he would release additional materials “to the extent that I can.”

In Holder’s defense, Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., claimed the committee has “not obtained one shred of evidence that would contradict your testimony.”

“Not one witness, not one document, not one e-mail, and still some continue to suggest that you did personally authorize gunwalking and the tactics in Operation Fast and Furious.”

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