The National “did she or didn’t she” debate focused on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misses the point, but make no mistake that is the intent of the GOP. I mean come on, in the grand scheme of does it really matter that Congressional leaders were briefed on water-boarding, harsh  interrogation techniques or unspecified “enhanced” techniques (whatever the Bush Administration chose to call it that week).  Isn’t the bigger picture more about the Bush Administration’s CYA propaganda campaign (and yes I meant CYA, “cover your ass”), the power driven subversion of our nation’s laws and the subsequent, trickle down cover-up of all the dirty little “in the name of counterterrorism” secrets? 

First of all, it has been widely reported for years, that the Congressional briefings on “all aspects of the detention and interrogation program” began in 2002 with a hand selected, smaller than traditional group of lawmakers. Years later in September 2006, the CIA briefed all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees”for the first time”. Consider this from the Washington Post circa 2007 .

The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and  Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and  John D. RockefellerIV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and  Sen. Pat Roberts(R-Kan). Congressional leaders from both parties would later seize on waterboarding as a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism effort.

In September 2006, the CIA for the first time briefed all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees, producing some heated exchanges with CIA officials, including Director Michael V. Hayden. The CIA director said during a television interview two months ago that he had informed congressional overseers of “all aspects of the detention and interrogation program.” He said the “rich dialogue” with Congress led him to propose a new interrogation program that President Bush formally announced over the summer.

“I can’t describe that program to you,” Hayden said. “But I would suggest to you that it would be wrong to assume that the program of the past is necessarily the program moving forward into the future.”

True, “waterboarding is a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s” but better yet “waterbroading is a symbol of  Bush and Cheney’s reign of self-serving hypocrisy”. If the truth about those briefings is ever really known, Hayden couldn’t describe Bush and Cheney’s “future” program for three reasons: 1) Bush and Cheney were operating the detainee program by the seat of their pants as ” top secret”, because they were paranoid that al-Qaeda would  “Bring it ” thus preparing themselves for our unspecified “enhanced” techniques, 2) How does one get around the fact that their “program”, violated the most basic, general provisions of  the Geneva Convention , and 3) Number two was fiqured out and Bush Co. needed time for their co-horts in the OLC  (Office of Legal Counsel) to craft, complete and justify waterboarding via the now infamous torture memos before presenting what they were really doing to lawmakers.

Maybe it’s just me, in my mind it shouldn’t have made any difference what Bush, Cheney or the CIA called it, you can call it what you will, it is still torture as a matter of U.S. law. It wasn’t so long ago that the U.S. government first declared the act of waterboarding  torture? Did we not convict and execute Japanese solders for waterboarding our troops  during World War II? 

Frankly, I do not care who was briefied, when from what party. I just want our lawmakers to explain one thing and that is.  If we do not  follow our own laws, how can we possibly expect to take the moral high-ground and lead the free world from a position of ethics and legality? The answer is we haven’t and we can’t.