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Point of Law-5-09: Pelosi vs the CIA

  • By G.Monty Manibog

(Editor’s Note: Former Monterey Park mayor, Monty Manibog, is a regular columnist offering legal tips and commentaries on high profile legal cases and events.)

It has become a “he says, she says” slugfest between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The current debate is over what Pelosi knew and when she knew it, having accused the CIA of lying to her and Congress on the issue of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) of terrorist suspects.

The CIA, successor to the World War II era Office of Strategic Services (OSS), is the nation’s spy agency (whose agents are mockingly called “spooks”) charged with intelligence gathering, among other things, they are to thwart terrorist plots essentially against American Interests. Its operations are worldwide and multifaceted. It also directed and trained Cuban exiles in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1962 and, currently operates pilotless drones firing “helllfire” missiles in Pakistan’s lawless Waziristan area, a Taliban stronghold.

Among the enhanced interrogation techniques employed in extracting information from suspected terrorist captives are sleep deprivation and “water boarding,” a simulated drowning, both of which are now banned by the Obama administration.

Because of some concerns from Congress about the legality of some EIT methods, the CIA and the Bush administration assured Congress20that the methods were legal and not in violation of Geneva Convention guidelines on the treatment of prisoners.

And this is the crux of the Pelosi-CIA controversy – was Pelosi told at a secret 2002 briefing that water boarding had been employed or did the CIA-Bush team tell her it had not been employed?

On May 6, 2009, CIA Director Leon Panetta told Congress that he couldn’t vouch for the accuracy of CIA records that Pelosi was informed of the use of EIT methods in 2002, but that Congress should draw its own conclusion through its investigative powers. On May 7, 2009, Pelosi insisted she was specifically told that water boarding was not used.

Lying to Congress, of course, is a criminal offense punishable by jail sentence (shades of another “Watergate Scandal”). However, if it turns out that Pelosi is lying, the Speaker’s seat will be too hot for her to sit on and she may be ousted from her presidential third-in-line position. A Republican sponsored resolution calling for a bipartisan investigation has been blocked by the Democrats which leaves the issue at a stalemate, allowing the running battle to continue.

C’mon, Madam Speaker, tell your fellow Democrats to quit pussyfooting and let the investigation proceed and the truth be told. Let the chips fall where they may.

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