A source close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now confirms that Pelosi was told in February 2003 by her intelligence aide, Michael Sheehy, that waterboarding was actually used on CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah.
This appears to contradict Pelosi’s account that she was never told waterboarding actually happened, only that the administration was considering using it.
Sheehy attended a briefing in which waterboarding was discussed in February 2003, with Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, who took over Pelosi’s spot as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
This source says Pelosi didn’t object when she learned that waterboarding was being used because she had not been personally briefed about it — only her aide had been told.
If accurate, this seems to be the final nail in the coffin of the Speaker’s credibility. For weeks she insisted on the lie that she wasn’t told waterboarding was actually taking place, only that the administration had a legal opinion authorizing such a tactic. Provided the CNN account is correct, she now will need to explain why she has been spinning a falsehood — again and again, both directly and through spokespeople.
It is bizarre, one must acknowledge, that she took to putting her fingers in her ears and humming — clinging to the notion that she didn’t really know what was going on because she was told through an intermediary. That’s a pretty pathetic dodge, even in an evolving storyline littered with paltry excuses.
Maybe Pelosi will deny the story or maybe she’s going to clam up. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Speaker has been deceiving her fellow Democrats and the country at large. Democrats will need to decide whether there is any price to be paid for that, other than the revelation itself that the Speaker of the House and the leader of their caucus is deceitful and undeserving of their — and our — trust.