What I think Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi should say about torture:

I am granting this article an open-source copyright, including free use without attribution.

I believe that Madame Speaker stands strongly and authentically against the practice of torture on an ethical basis, and rejects “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” authorized by the Bush administration because of the potential harm they bring to national security and America’s standing in the world. If I was in a position to advise Pelosi regarding her public statements today, here is what I would suggest saying:

“The interrogation strategies used by the Bush Administration — which turned its back on bipartisan cooperation and collaboration and mocked opposing views as “unpatriotic” — were part of a highly classified set of policies and materials which members of Congress and the House Intelligence Committee were not in a position to expose or comment on publicly — and were not included in the process of deciding and formally approving policy, even in the few cases where we were fully and openly briefed at all. Under Bush Administration policies members of the House Intelligence Committee were simply informed that lawyers in the Department of Justice, hand-picked by Alberto Gonzales to give Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld carte blanche approval for any of their flawed and failed policies, had approved some vague idea of “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.” While we had suspicions that the Bush Administration may indeed have authorized and directed torture in violation of the Geneva Convention, we were never told what, when, to whom, or under which circumstances these illegal interrogation techniques could or would be used.

“Torture, including waterboarding, is inhumane, unethical, illegal, and unacceptable. However even our strongest objections to the policies forced into place by the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld triad could not be made public; because despite our disagreement and abhorrence with the potential for violation of human rights, or even war crimes outlawed in the Geneva Convention, we could not just breech security protocol to rush a debate in order to eliminate any policies that the Administration had put in place which might have opened the door to torture. The interrogation practices in question were entangled with larger strategies and policies that Bush and Cheney claimed were in the interest of Homeland Security and anti-terrorism, and to bring the full content and specifics to public attention would have put the mission and lives of our servicemen and women in the Armed Forces into jeopardy.

“However, within Congressional protocol and federal law regarding classified information, I along with other Democratic leaders and even many concerned Republicans used every avenue open to us to push for the elimination of these practices which are downright un-American. I could not reveal classified information to the public in an argument against the Bush Administration’s policies. However, I consistently stood up and universally rejected the prior administration’s potential use of torture, and have done everything in my power to push these policies into debate so that we may be fully briefed into the actual interrogation practices authorized and–God forbid–used under Bush and Cheney.

“We are doing everything we can to fix the mess Bush and Cheney left America to deal with after the people overwhelmingly rejected the flawed and unethical policies of the last 8 years. Today, President Obama has begun the process of opening up formerly-classified information to our full attention. We must now institute a bipartisan commission to investigate the actual techniques approved practiced by the Bush Administration, and if and when illegal techniques may have been used. The commission must have the latitude and power to make their decision based on complete information, so that it can bring to light exactly who decided, formally authorized, or knew the complete range of interrogation tactics used under the Bush Administration. Once everything is known about the details and extent of ethical and legal violations that may have been committed under the previous administration, it is even possible that we will be able to prosecute those responsible for potential war crimes, if that is what is necessary to bring justice. At this time, however, I can not comment on my opinions regarding prosecution.

“President Obama is also working with us in Congress (not against us the way Bush and Cheney turned their back on the balance of power and the Constitution) to restore our security policies to truly protect the American people, while once again respecting human dignity for people around the world. Doing so will not only make America safer and more secure than we were under Bush/Cheney policies, but will also restore our strength and standing in the international community.”


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