Senior House Democrat leadership aides say that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes that members of the Central Intelligence Agency aren’t the only people who have been lying to her. “Since she stepped into the middle of this waterboarding controversy she’s become almost paranoid about her own people,” says one leadership aide, who has worked with Pelosi, most recently in strategizing about House efforts on health care reform.
According to the aides, Pelosi believes that some junior members of her leadership team, as well as moderate — or “Blue Dog” — Democrats, have been “aiding and abetting” the media in pursuing her ever-changing story on whether she was briefed about or had knowledge of the CIA enhanced interrogation techniques.
At least three separate documents developed by the CIA and shared with both the Department of Justice and the White House have detailed meetings and briefings in which Pelosi or her proxies were informed of the techniques, who they were used on, and whether these techniques were successful.
Also, according to long-time DOJ officials with knowledge of the meetings, Pelosi, her staff, and senior House Democrats were briefed on ongoing anti-terrorist activities after the September 11th attacks. “We [DOJ/FBI] were up there all the time, so was the CIA and Defense, as well as the White House, talking to them,” says the DOJ staffer. “To say that they were not informed simply isn’t true. They may not have liked what they heard, but they knew about it.”
Not only that, but Pelosi, along with Rep. Henry Waxman, were also being briefed by Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency employees sympathetic to the Democrats’ position on the Iraq War, Guantanamo, and the CIA’s secret holding facilities overseas.
“People seem to be forgetting that it was people who were working with Democrats and outside left-wing groups that leaked the secret prisons story and did so coordinating with Democrats in Congress for maximum effect,” says a Senate Republican aide on the Intelligence Committee. “Some of the Democrats in Congress were getting more detailed briefings than some Administration officials. My guess is that Pelosi knew about as much as Vice President Cheney did, whether she wanted to or not.”
Now Pelosi, say some House leadership aides, is unsure of whom she can trust in her inner circle. “She believes that [House majority leader Steny] Hoyer is working against her behind the scenes, or someone supportive of Hoyer. She thinks some of the freshmen aren’t terribly supportive and are giving the media negative comments about her to keep feeding the story,” says the aide.
These and other Blue Dog Democrats have been growing increasingly restless about the upcoming legislative agenda on health care and energy, in that their votes could harm them with voters back home. They were expecting a lighter legislative calendar, but are now facing votes on issues that will increase government spending…again, as well impose energy-use and environment penalties that could adversely affect businesses and employment in their districts.
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