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Pelosi Statement on House Filing Civil Lawsuit Against Bush Administration to Enforce Contempt Subpoenas


Location: Washington, DC

Pelosi Statement on House Filing Civil Lawsuit Against Bush Administration to Enforce Contempt Subpoenas

Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this evening to support overriding the President's veto of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008, which extends the prohibition on the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques that currently applies to the military to the entire Intelligence Community. A majority of the House voted for the override, 225 to 188, but it failed because it fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority. Below are the Speaker's remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, the New Direction Congress made strengthening national security and improving America's intelligence capabilities a top priority. It is our major responsibility - to protect the American people.

"Our very first piece of legislation—HR 1—took the bipartisan 9/11 Commission recommendations off the shelf, as they had been in the Republican Congress, and put them into law to better protect the American people.

"We then began our efforts to strengthen America's military, the readiness of which has been greatly depleted by the President's failed Iraq policy.

"America's security depends on the strength of our military, as we all know, but also the quality of information gathered and analysis provided by the 16 intelligence agencies that make our nation's intelligence community.

"As someone who has served on the House Intelligence Committee now as a member and ex-officio for 16 years, longer than anyone in the Congress, I understand that policymakers in Congress and in the Executive Branch must be able to rely on accurate, timely, and actionable intelligence.

"That is why this intelligence authorization bill invests in human intelligence, counterterrorism operations, and analysis. It is a critical step in protecting our nation, and the President should have signed it into law.

"Regrettably, President Bush vetoed these critical investments in our intelligence capabilities because this legislation extended the Army Field Manual's prohibition on torture to Intelligence Community personnel.

"The prohibition on torture that the President vetoed protected our values, protected American military and diplomatic personnel, and protected Americans by ensuring accurate intelligence.

"Our nation is on a stronger ground ethically and morally when our practices for holding and interrogating captives are consistent with the Geneva Conventions—when we do not torture.

"We all have our views here about intelligence gathering, analysis, and dissemination. And again, much of the focus is on force protection, so I look to the words of those who have served in the military for their view on this subject.

"In the words of retired Rear Admiral Donald Guter, a former Navy Judge Advocate General: ‘There is no disconnect between human rights and national security…they're synergistic. One doesn't work without the other for very long.'

"Failing to legally prohibit the use of waterboarding and other harsh torture techniques also risks the safety of our soldiers and other Americans serving overseas.

"In a letter to the Congressional intelligence committee chairmen, 30 retired generals and admirals—including General Joseph Hoar, the former head of U.S. Central Command—stated: ‘We believe it is vital to the safety of our men and women in uniform that the United States not sanction the use of interrogation methods it would find unacceptable if inflicted by the enemy against captured Americans…'

"Many military officials and intelligence professionals have also stated that torture is ineffective: it is unlikely to produce the kind of timely and reliable information needed to disrupt terrorist plots. In the words of General David Petraeus: ‘Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. That would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary.'

"These leading military men and women, and those of us who supported this legislation's ban on torture, believe that we can and we must protect America while preserving our country's deeply held principles.

"In the final analysis, our ability to lead the world will depend not only on our military might, but also on our moral authority. Today, we can begin to reassert that moral authority by overriding the President's veto."

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