Torture update: What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?

My previous torture-related posts seem to have landed me on some lefty enemies lists. Let’s see if I can get on a few more. The big torture question before us today is “What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?” Turns out, she knew pretty much everything and she knew it right off the bat.

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.

Ain’t that tough enough? Well cue the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Everybody with any sense was a tough guy on terror back in 2002. Now, not so much. Everyone’s tough on Bush but fewer are they who remain tough on the terrorists in anything more than lip service.

Notice what else Pelosi knew about: The CIA’s so-called black sites where terrorists were being held overseas. And she did not object.

Has the actual threat of large-scale terrorism receded enough so that we can all go back to a 9-10 slumber and wash our collective hands of the tactics that we approved of in the clarifying months to years immediately after 9-11? I don’t think so, though the threat has been blunted by, you guessed it, tough action in Afghanistan and Iraq. The degree to which we all feel safer now is the degree to which we argue about everything under the sun, including things that former tuff guys were once fine with, or at least lodged no formal objection to. Only one Congressperson is known to have objected to waterboarding when it would have made any difference, which is when the practice was actually used against three high value al Qaeda targets. 2002 and 2003 were the years to make a strong stand on this, not years later when it’s politically useful and convenient. And those who have made careers out of decrying waterboarding really ought to craft some new spin now, because pinning it all on Bush will no longer fly. The CIA that is under President Bush’s responsibility did its due diligence and notified Congress members in both parties of what it was doing. And with one exception, they didn’t object.

This story exposes the fact that the Democrats have been playing games on waterboarding for years now, publicly decrying it while privately raising no useful objection to it. So I’m in agreement with Captain Ed and InstaPundit among others on this. And I’ll add that we’re seeing one more incident in which the Democrats simply cannot be trusted to live up to their public statements even on so vital an issue as the tactics and techniques that will occasionally be necessary to fight and win the long war on terrorism. During the 1990s they all warned us about the dangers of Saddam Hussein, only to turn their backs on the actual war to remove him, and during 2002 and 2003 they knew about the CIA’s aggressive interrogation of high value al Qaeda terrorists, only to politicize that in the years since.

If you think the Democrats are dishonest and unreliable on matters of war and peace (and a whole lot else), then they are exactly who you think they are.