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Waterboarding Was OK With Top Dems

Posted on Dec 9, 2007

A bipartisan group of top lawmakers, including current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was briefed on the details of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques as early as 2002. According to several U.S. officials, over the course of roughly 30 private briefings only one objection to the practice was raised.

Washington Post:

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-Calif.), 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.

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By Todd Millions, December 11, 2007 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment
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I just googled up a documentary I saw as a child-that left an indielable impression on me-I can still recall the ‘exellent’ recording of a ‘waterboarding’ interrogation.
I urge anyone who can stomach what is really involved in this too veiw this most christian procedure-recorded in the feild too boot.
Doing it in an airconditoned base must make it much easier too bear-for the inquistors at least.
Its-  The Mills of the Gods ,1965-director B.Fox

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By John Borowski, December 11, 2007 at 12:36 pm Link to this comment
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Folks, if I was to vote in a make-believe presidential election and there were only two parties that could stand a chance of winning anything. I would vote for the mythical devil that represented the Democratic Party over anyone in the Republican (Aka Conservative right-wingers) Party. No matter whether I belonged to the super rich or the average American, I would be choosing the lesser of two evils. If I voted for the Republican Party as a super rich in this example I would have to be a moral coward to do so.

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By Leefeller, December 11, 2007 at 7:11 am Link to this comment


Could it be that waterbording is promoted by sick individuals who like performing the act on others.  Killing just does not provide the feeling of empowerment in the same way, and of course the added bonus of forced confessions are always added in the end. 

You may be onto something, we are spending time talking about waterbording and ignoring genocide, I know the Republicans prefer talking about torture rather then the if killing masses of people, seems some of the Dems could be in cahoots.

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By cann4ing, December 10, 2007 at 8:19 pm Link to this comment

Thomas, I will provide you with a personal account that proves you are correct.

In 1942 my father was arrested by the Japanese Kempetai (secret police) in Shanghai and taken to Bridge House, an infamous torture chamber, where he was kept for several months in a cage so small he could neither lie down nor stand.  He was interrogated; asked to sign a confession that he was a British agent.

My father refused for two reasons.  First, it wasn’t true.  He was a civilian; the plant manager of a British manufacturing firm.  Second, he thought that he was being asked nothing less than to sign his own death warrant.

Several soldiers pinned my father to a wooden platform.  One held a sponge over his mouth and nose while another poured water onto the sponge. 

I know there are multiple articles that refer to this as “simulated” drowning.  That understates it.  My father could hold his breath only so long, then water ran up his nostrils, into his mouth, down his throat and into his lungs.  He said it was exquisitely painful and frightening.  He thought he would die right there on that platform.

After multiple lapses of consciousness over a span of hours, he signed the confession.  Unsatisfied with his wobbly signature, his tormentors returned to his cage the next day; presenting him with the choice of signing again or another round of waterboarding.  He signed.

After the war, my father’s testimony at the 1948 War Crimes Trials in Hong Kong helped to convict a Japanese general.  It was torture then, and it is torture now.

But waterboarding and other forms of torture are not simply illegal and immoral.  They are just plain stupid.  Torture will extract confessions but there is no way to know whether it has also extracted the truth.  People who are being tortured will tell you whatever it is that they think you want hear, even, as in my father’s case, they think their confession is also their death warrant. 

Anyone now serving, or who has served, in the Executive or Legislative branches of our government who countenanced this abominable practice should be removed from office and prosecuted—that includes Pelosi and Harmon as well as Bush, Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, David Addington, Rumsfeld. 

I know I seem rather adamant about that, but knowing what I know, I think, on behalf of my father and every other victim of this abominable practice, I have the right to be so.

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By Thomas Billis, December 10, 2007 at 4:13 pm Link to this comment

To one commenter who used the analogy” if your family was killed you would want waterboarding to find the killer”.By all professional accounts it does not work.So in essence what you are saying is “I do not care that it does not work I want it used so somebody will confess.“Does that make sense.We have prosecuted interrogators from other countries for using this technique and it allows anyone who captures a US military man to do the same thing.All for something that does not work.The quality of intelligence in Iraq has gone up since we abandoned Spanish Inquisition methods of interrogation.Stop watching 24 and start reading what the professionals tell us.

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By cann4ing, December 10, 2007 at 3:50 pm Link to this comment

Well at least now we now know why Pelosi has been so adamant to keep impeachment off the table.  She was afraid that if we got into exposing the criminality of the Bush regime, it would implicate her.

Congress should (1) remove Pelosi from her leadership position, picking a new speaker who would be in line for the presidency if Bush/Cheney are impeached; (2) impeach Bush/Cheney/Pelosi/Harmon all in one consolidated proceeding; (3) repeal the Military Commissions Act of 2006, not only restoring habeas corpus but eliminating the immunity from war crimes prosecutions retroactive to 9/11/01, and (4) turn all four over to the Justice Department for possible war crimes prosecution.

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By Conservative Yankee, December 10, 2007 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Gawd this is a laugh… I’ve been present at water boardings (or a close relation to same as I understand it)HERE in the USA. This technique was used on CHILDREN at Lincoln Hall reform School in Lincolndale New York in the late 1960’s. 

I’ve heard from friends who still work in the juvenile detention business that they used it at Roslindale in Massachusetts, The State Indrustrial School at Red Wing Minnesota, and The John G Richards school in one of the Carolinas.

I’ve written letters to Republican and Democratic Senators, Governors, and Juvenile corrections commissioners.

The response is almost always silence, but I did get a letter from Thomas McIntyre in New Hampshire telling me I should find other work If I wasn’t up to enforcing the discipline policy.

So now, that we are doing the same thing to non-citizen adults who may pose a serious threat to our well being (unlike the boy who threw food in the NHSIS cafeteria) we’re all oh oh oh my my my about it.

Balls I say… When this country starts treating its unwanted children humanely, then I’ll get all rumpled about some terrorist!  Till then fuck ‘em and the horse they rode in on!

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By lawlessone, December 10, 2007 at 12:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Regarding the discovery that only one of the Democrat congressmen objected to waterboarding back in 2002, no wonder I have been feeling both disgusted and distrustful of the top Democrats.  None of them seems to believe in the principles of the Democratic Party, the Constitution, its Bill of Rights or their own oath of office.

We desperately need a double zero or “none of the above” option when voting.

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By rage, December 10, 2007 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This explains why these dimwitocracks have done less than their do-nothing predecesors. Their guity hands are tied by their criminal complicity. They are no better than the other side of the aisle.

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By P. T., December 10, 2007 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, and others need to be the subjects of criminal investigations as accessories to torture.

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By felicity, December 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

So, types of torture to which a prisoner might be subjected had to be kept secret from potential captives?  That’s interesting because the argument for torture was that it would deter anybody contemplating terrorist acts - get caught and you get tortured deterrent.

The other argument that torture was an effective means of getting viable information from a captive was condemned by professional counter-intelligence agents years ago.

Let’s face it.  Not only are our august leaders in one case uninformed, in the other they’re shown to be pathological liars. So what’s left?  Sadists anyone.

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By John Borowski, December 10, 2007 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Accidentally of course, you forgot to mention if any top Republicans (Conservatives right wingers) gave Bush thunderous applause when he instituted water torture in the torture chambers.

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By ElkoJohn, December 10, 2007 at 7:55 am Link to this comment

2/3’s of the Dems in congress are part of the big-money oligrachy that runs the gov. They just accept that they need the big-money types in order to keep their jobs, therefore, BUSINESS AS USUAL. Although I am a life-long FDR/Kucinich Dem, I will vote Ron Paul as my protest vote. The only way to fix the corrupt US gov. is to dismantle it, so the big-money has to try to control 50-state govs. instead of one Fed. gov. It’s a lost cause, bc I know there will never be a super-majority in congress willing to take back the gov. from big-money. As usual, the lesser of the evils.

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By Jacob Stohler, December 10, 2007 at 7:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert Scheer has been both a consistent opponent of torture and friend/supporter of Pelosi. Will he speak up against her now?

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By Verne Arnold, December 10, 2007 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

Holy crap, lets get a grip.  Is anyone here really surprised by this non-revelation?  Come on now, these sorry excuses, who call themselves democratic “representatives” are walking, talking pieces of excrement.  They have long (and I mean Loooong) shown their neo-libricon proclivities.  There are no surprises here!  As time goes by more and more will be revealed showing their duplicity.  We have been bought and sold down the polluted mainstream of American politics.

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By sheila, December 10, 2007 at 1:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How did Pelosi become the Speaker?  She is pathetically unqualified for the position. Can’t we demote or impeach her? And lets get rid of neocon military profiteer Feinstein while we are at it.  You Californians need to get to the ball.Time’s a’waistin.

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By waxman, December 9, 2007 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment


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By Thomas Billis, December 9, 2007 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment

I disagree with the two previous commenters.What piece of evidence in the way the democrats have caved into every executive demand would lead you to believe that they would stand up to the executive on anything.I have an idea.Let’s waterboard the democratic leadership and ask them.This will accomplish two things 1]they will know whether waterboarding is torture or not 2]we will have signed confessions for every unsolved crime in the twentieth century.Defending democrats when there is overwhelming evidence that they have the balls of gnats is not the way to win our country back.We must stay on their asses and force them in spite of themselves to do the right thing.Nancy Pelosi’s silence on this issue says volumes.

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By peedeecee, December 9, 2007 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment

Why would anyone believe this story? Who are the “officials” who are being cited? What evidence is there that this story is factual? That the “officials” don’t have an agenda?

Sorry, WP - you have to do better than that before I’ll buy this.

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