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Obama: ‘I’d like to work my way around Congress’ | Campaign 2012

Obama: ‘I’d like to work my way around Congress’ | Campaign 2012.

byByron York Chief Political Correspondent
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President Barack Obama speaks at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 34th Annual Awards Gala at the Washington Convention Center, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011 in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Facing growing opposition to his economic proposals and dimming prospects that Congress will pass other parts of his agenda, President Obama told a Hispanic group in Washington Wednesday that when it comes to the issue of immigration, “I’d like to work my way around Congress.”

“As I mentioned when I was at La Raza a few weeks back, I wish I had a magic wand and could make this all happen on my own,” Obama told a meeting of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “There are times where — until Nancy Pelosi is speaker again — I’d like to work my way around Congress.”

As he continued, Obama conceded that “we’ve got laws on the books that have to be upheld.”  But he quickly added there are different ways to uphold the laws on the books. “You know as well as anyone that…how we enforce those laws is also important,” Obama said.  Last month, the administration made a major, unilateral change in immigration law enforcement when it announced that the government will not initiate deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants unless they have committed serious crimes.  To critics, Obama had indeed worked his way around Congress.  To the Hispanic Caucus, Obama said his new policy will “prioritize criminals who endanger our communities, not students trying to achieve the American dream.”

The bigger problem, Obama said, is that sort of unilateral enforcement (or non-enforcement) only goes so far.  “We live in a democracy, and at the end of the day, I can’t do this all by myself under our democratic system,” he said.  “If we’re going to do big things — whether it’s passing this jobs bill, or the DREAM Act, or comprehensive immigration reform — we’re going to have to get Congress to act.”

This is the second time in recent months that Obama has publicly mused about going around Congress to enact immigration reform.  In that speech to La Raza in July, he said that “some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own” — a prospect Obama said he found “very tempting.”  But the president quickly added, “that’s not how our system works.”

51 Bullet-Pointed Facts That Dispute Barack Obama’s Identity & Eligibility to be President of The USA! Share This | CatchKevin.com

51 Bullet-Pointed Facts That Dispute Barack Obama’s Identity & Eligibility to be President of The USA! Share This | CatchKevin.com.


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How To Destroy An Administration’s Credibility in [Market-Ticker]

How To Destroy An Administration’s Credibility in [Market-Ticker].

How To Destroy An Administration’s Credibility


First, refuse to release an actual birth certificate when you’re challenged on your bona-fides to be President during the original campaign.  Then, when pressed, release one that is heavily compressed and bears no relationship to an actual simple scan of a piece of paper, leaving plenty of doubt about exactly how it came to be.  Once you’ve done this, be extraordinarily “Presidential” and take cheap shots at a potential political opponent during a Press dinner in a scene more reminiscent of South Park than that befitting a President of The United States.

Next, make lots of noise about how you’re not going to Washington to pander to banksters.  As soon as you’re elected, however, make sure you appoint the man who runs the NY Fed to be your Treasury Secretary.

Tell the public you’re going to cut the budget deficit in half within your first term during the campaign, fully-aware that we’re headed into the worst recession in decades at the time.  As soon as you get in office, nearly triple the deficit spending of your predecessor instead.

Campaign on the horrors of the drug war and the need to stop criminals from shooting people in Mexico in furtherance of this activity.  Once in office set up “Project Gunwalker” and “Fast and Furious” allowing more than 1,000 illegally-purchased firearms to be transported to Mexico, some of which are then used to shoot both Americans and Mexicans.  Oh, and to make sure the Mexican drug lords can pay for those guns allow a major US bank to launder nearly $400 billion dollars of Mexican drug money and get off with a tiny little fine instead of sending everyone involved in that scam to prison and revoking the bank’s charter.

Tell the public you are being elected their President to stand and fight for the “little people.” Once in office, however, allow more than 150,000 perjured affidavits to be filed in furtherance of stealing the common man’s home, and instead of directing your Justice Department to empanel a grand jury and indict everyone involved work behind the scenes on a sweetheart deal where these very same firms promise – very nicely – not to do it again.

In keeping with the same premise, demand and pass not one but two 2,000 page monstrosities of bills, one attempting to force everyone in the country to buy a thing they may not want to (Health Insurance) and the other claiming to fix “too big to fail” while doing nothing of the sort, refusing to force the unregulated credit default swap and other derivative markets to come under margin supervision and public exchange posting of pricing and spreads.  When challenged on the cost-savings of your health reform bill wave your hands, scream and shout – right up until you’re caught double-counting alleged savings and your HHS Secretary is forced to admit you did it in a Congressional hearing.

Advocate and get passed a bill called “Cash for Clunkers” that is claimed to be intended to help the auto industry and middle-class America.  Ignore the fact that it also caused a huge number of affordable cars and their most-valuable parts to be intentionally destroyed, thereby dramatically increasing the cost of acquiring basic transportation for those who are in the lower economic strata.

Then, after you’ve done all this, claim to have killed Bin Laden in a SEAL raid, trumpeting the best and finest military units that the world has ever known.  Promise to release pictures proving that the most-hunted and wanted man in the history of the United States – the mastermind behind blowing up three buildings with airplanes and attempting to hit a forth – has expired at America’s hand.  We’re shown a picture of a rapt group of military brass and the President himself allegedly watching helmet cameras as the assault takes place, having bravely given the order to “go” on what could have turned into another Blackhawk Down.  But as the days wear on the story of a brave combat unit going into a firefight with a mighty terrorist and his minions who shoot at our troops in their heavily-fortified mansion until they draw their last breath begins to crumble.

First, the firefight wasn’t so massive.  Indeed, we later discover that there was no shooting in the main building at all – that there was only one small skirmish at the guest house.  From that point forward nobody fired on our guys at all.

The story of Osama using women as human shields falls apart with equal rapidity.  It turns out that he shoved a woman who is allegedly his wife out of the way – and she took a round in the leg in the process.

It then develops that the White House didn’t have real-time communication during the raid, despite leading everyone to believe they did.

Next, we learn that Osama didn’t have a weapon within his grasp when he was shot and killed.  He didn’t die trying to repel the assault.  He just died.  In fact, the narrative changes to him “dying as a coward.”  Was he trying to reach for a weapon?  There were allegedly two in the room with him.  We’ll never know for sure.  Nonetheless, unless he got his fingers on one, he couldn’t have shot anyone with an empty hand.

To top it all off, the body of the alleged Osama Bin Laden was then, as the President said, treated with the respect due a Muslim but, in his words, carted off to the Carl Vinson and tossed off the fantail into the sea. The people I’ve spoken with who are familiar with Muslim burial customs have made clear that except in extreme circumstances burial at sea is not acceptable in any way.  Of course my personal view is that he should have been wrapped in bacon and trolled on a line as shark-bait behind the ship, mostly as an object lesson to anyone who might try to emulate him, seeing as radical Muslims would view such a demise as a one-way immediate and permanent trip to Hell.  I’m clearly in the minority on this point, but I view a dead man as just a corpse, and if we can get deterrent value from him after he’s expired it should be seriously considered.

Finally, despite this all happening within a few hours’ time a positive DNA match was obtained prior to the original press conference, proving that it was Osama.  Plausible?  Maybe – one-hour testing has been demonstrated.  If anyone has it in field-usable form, our military probably does.  And if that’s not enough we were promised that photograph so we could all see that indeed Osama is dead – a photograph that has now been claimed to be withheld so we don’t “spike the football” (in the President’s words) – never mind that the same sort of murderous bastards that blew up our buildings thought nothing of publishing a video of them sawing off Nick Berg’s head.

I have no doubt that the raid took place, and I have no particular reason to doubt that Osama met his maker last weekend.  After all, there were plenty of witnesses in Pakistan who have gone on the air to testify that a raid did take place, never mind the fact that we seem to have broken one of our rather-secret helicopters in the process.  Our SEALs performed admirably – but then again, that’s who they are and what they do.  I’ve said it before and will again – if any of the team is ever in this area, the beer is on me.

I’m also reasonably certain Bin Laden burning in Hell right now.

Will the conspiracy-minded folks be satisfied at this point?  No.  But that lack of satisfaction is Obama’s responsibility, and nobody else’s.  That we shot some people in that compound is without question.  That we lost a chopper doing it is also without question.  There are those who believe Bin Laden has been dead for a long time; after all he was rumored to have end-state renal failure and it’s damn hard to undergo dialysis in a cave somewhere.

That this Administration can’t get its story straight should not be a surprise.  Virtually every other word that has passed Obama’s lips since he was elected has been proved to be a bald-faced and puerile lie. The problem with lying is that you have to keep track of all the bull**** you spew lest you contradict yourself and then the gig is up.

There are more questions than answers that have come out of this raid, and answers to those questions are being dodged.  How, for example, is it that Osama lives in relative comfort right under the Pakistani equivalent of West Point without detection?  Did we really waterboard the guy who led us to the courier?  Did Obama order and go ahead with that waterboarding after selling America on him as a President in no small part by promising never to use that sort of technique?  Was Bin Laden really living in Pakistan in that mansion for several years?  Who are these Pakistanis anyway – are they our friends or are they really harboring not only Bin Laden but the Taliban generally, while we are handing them billions of dollars in “assistance”?  Wouldn’t it be “delicious” if we were directly and indirectly funding the very bastards who are trying to kill us?

Where’s the chopper remnants?  Why haven’t we gotten the wreckage back?  If the Pakistanis are our friends in trying to fight terrorism, what’s the problem with returning our nation’s property?  How sure are we that all the Pakistani nuclear weapons (they are believed to have over 100 of them) are all secure and accounted for – and will stay that way?  Oh, and what the hell do we intend to do about all that?  Wait for a mushroom cloud over an American city?  These are questions we as Americans should be demanding from our leadership – right here, right now, today.

Should we, as Americans, be confident in our leaders?  I’m quite confident that whatever mission our men and women in uniform are given, they’ll execute it.  The SEALs proved that once again last weekend.  But that our military can and does faithfully execute orders doesn’t make the orders they’re given, the rules of engagement and the missions handed out intelligent.  If the man in the left seat of our nation is a bumbling narcissistic idiot, we’re in trouble.

Exactly who is Barack Obama, and why should anyone – in this nation or otherwise, given his proved record of lies and intentional butt-****s that have been handed out on a serial basis to the American people – take him and the Administration in general seriously?

We’re well past the point where that question should be asked in public.

Broken Promises to Wisconsin Seniors, Take Two JournalTimes.com | Paul Ryan Commentary


This doesn’t just apply to Wisconsin seniors and beneficiaries of medicare advantage, but to seniors and disabled throughout the United States.


JournalTimes.com | Paul Ryan Commentary.

By Paul Ryan
Representing Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District
October 1, 2009


President Obama has promised that if you like the health coverage you have now, you can keep it. Medicare beneficiaries across the country, including nearly 900,000 here in Wisconsin, have voiced their legitimate skepticism with this promise. So, the President took it a step further, telling seniors at a recent AARP event, “Nobody is talking about cutting Medicare benefits.” Yet again, we find a yawning gap between the President’s rhetoric and the actual substance of the legislation being pushed through Congress.

In order to pay for the trillion dollar health care overhaul making its way through Congress, hundred of billions of dollars will come from new tax hikes, hundreds of billions of dollars will be borrowed, and hundreds of billions of dollars will be cut from Medicare. I realize that the President promised not to cut Medicare benefits, but the proposed bills do exactly that.

Testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf stated plainly that these changes “would reduce the extra benefits that would be made available to beneficiaries through Medicare Advantage plans.” The CBO has previously stated that these Medicare Advantage cuts “could lead many plans to limit the benefits they offer, raise their premiums, or withdraw from the program”. Specifically, Section 1161 of H.R. 3200 (page 331) cuts $156.3 billion from Medicare Advantage. As a practical result of this legislation, an estimated six million current Medicare Advantage beneficiaries would no longer be able to afford their current plans or lose access all together.

Medicare Advantage is a program that fills the gaps from the traditional Medicare benefits, utilizing approved private plans to offer seniors additional benefits at lower costs. Emphasizing integrated and preventative care, Medicare Advantage tailors benefit plans to patients’ needs, putting quality over quantity.

This innovative delivery of coverage and care is a favorite target of Washington. In 1997, a similar option was made available to seniors, then called Medicare+Choice. But year after year, the reimbursement rates were cut for these plans, making it increasingly unattractive for private providers to offer plans. As a result of inadequate federal reimbursements, seniors in Southeastern Wisconsin were dropped from Humana and United Health Care’s Primecare Gold plans. Prior to dropping coverage in 1999, Primecare Gold had 1,965 enrollees in Racine County and 590 in Kenosha County.

I held multiple Medicare town hall meetings for those hit hardest by these decisions, and vividly recall the difficult experiences shared by seniors in the area. While Blue Cross Blue Shield, in conjunction with All Saints Healthcare System, stepped up to offer a Medicare+Choice plan option to those who were losing coverage from the Humana/Primecare Gold plans, the Medicare reimbursement rate remained broken and this new option quickly met a similar fate. As a result of these Blue Cross Blue Shield plans being dropped in 2001, roughly 10,000 beneficiaries in Southeastern Wisconsin were adversely affected. When Wisconsin seniors lost access to these popular Medicare+Choice plans, the consequences were painful and the vocal anger was justified.

In 2003, the program evolved into what is now known as Medicare Advantage, and Congress is threatening to repeat the same mistakes. Nearly a quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries in Wisconsin, including a disproportionate number of African-Americans, Hispanics, and seniors living in rural communities, have enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. There are also countless “snowbirds” that reside in warmer climates in the winter that have made clear to me their preference for Medicare Advantage plans. One of the obvious advantages of this program is seniors need only pay one deductible and one form of co-pays, while all of Medicare’s component parts (Part A, B, C & D) are folded into one integrated program.

Despite the increasing popularity of Medicare Advantage and the President’s promises to protect seniors’ benefits, this patient-centered coverage option is again on the chopping block.

If all of this is coming as a surprise, the problem runs deeper than politicians failing to be frank with the American people. The federal government has actively sought to silence providers’ warnings to their customers of these pending cuts. It was recently uncovered that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, placed a gag order on Medicare Advantage providers for sharing information with their enrollees about pending changes to their plans. Without regard for private health care plans’ right to inform their enrollees about consequential legislation, CMS has launched an investigation against Humana for mailing a factually verified warning about proposed cuts.

The Administration’s actions open an array of troubling questions on both the appropriateness and legality of such political intimidation. In both tactics and substance, the Medicare Advantage issue reminds Wisconsinites of their continued frustrations with how Washington operates.

Medicare Advantage represents a perfect example of how Congress ought to fix what’s broken, rather than break what’s working. I believe that Medicare Advantage’s bureaucratic formula hinders true competition, which benefits insurance companies at the expense of seniors receiving the care and taxpayers footing the bill. I have introduced legislation, H.R. 2520, The Patients’ Choice Act, which includes a provision to force Medicare Advantage plans to compete against each other. Competitive bidding would allow the market, not a bureaucratic formula, to set reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage plans.

Unfortunately, the President and Congress have gone far beyond this common sense reform, as the legislation being pushed through Congress would dramatically increase premiums for seniors or simply kill Medicare Advantage outright. The 216,615 Wisconsinites and the 10.5 million Americans nationwide enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans deserve better.

There is no doubt that health care in America, including Medicare and Medicaid, are in need of serious reform. Serious reform requires a serious conversation. Rather than drastic Medicare Advantage benefit cuts, I believe competitive bidding would provide a more equitable and efficient reimbursement mechanism for the program. Rather than perpetuate false promises, I believe responsible leaders should level with Wisconsin’s seniors.

Barack H. Obama: Administrator

Barack H. Obama: Administrator.

Obama is creating a new form of government with a growing network of “Czars”

Barack H. Obama: Administrator


 By Editor  Sunday, June 14, 2009

Barack H. Obama will forever be known as the first black president of the United States.  This fact will likely be the least impressive item about him in tomorrow’s history books.  The first four months of his administration strongly suggest that he will most likely be known as the president who transformed America’s system of government.

The U.S. Constitution provides for a system of representative government with a degree of checks and balances.  This system has been tested, twisted, and tormented over the years, but has always survived the abuses inflicted upon it.  Obama brings a new threat, in a new era, to a new generation.

Obama is creating a system of government that is beginning to look much like an “Administrator” form of government that will ultimately have no checks and balances, and little need for legislators.

This form of government was the fantasy of Colonel Edward Mandell House, the “alter-ego” of President Woodrow Wilson, a designer of the League of Nations, and author of “Philip Dru: Administrator.”

House fantasized about a system of government in which a single administrator held all executive power to appoint underlings without interference from elected bodies, and to design, and enforce, rules of behavior for individuals, and organizations – including states and local administrative units.  In House’s world, his administrator was a part of a global system of administrative governance whose purpose was “…to pursue socialism as dreamed of by Karl Marx.”

Obama’s actions during these first few months are very much like those of Philip Dru: Administrator.  He has found a way to design, and enforce, rules of behavior on much of the banking system, and on General Motors and Chrysler – private industries not subject to governmental management under previous presidents.

Obama has found a way to force state and local governments to yield to his rules in order to get federal dollars, even when states don’t want the dollars that come with federal strings attached. 

Obama is creating a new form of government with a growing network of “Czars” that do not have to be approved by the Senate, nor are they subject to the oversight of Congress.  So far, 21 Czars have been appointed, with assignments and salaries set by Obama, and accountable only to Obama.  This network of White House officers bypasses the traditional executive organizational structure that relies on Cabinet Secretaries to administer laws and promulgate rules subject to congressional oversight and supervision.

Obama the Administrator is building his enforcement organization to avoid the obstacles that Congress often constructs.  These congressional obstructions are also known as checks and balances.

These dramatic changes in the structure and form of government have drawn hardly a whimper from the American people, the media, or from congressional opponents.  These changes are just the beginning.  Obama is determined to impose a national healthcare system, and a national energy-rationing system on the nation.  He has already demonstrated his contempt for the Constitution by reaching deep inside private industry to inflict and enforce his managerial dictates. 

He has announced that he has no reluctance to destroy the private healthcare system in order to impose a government-run system that sounds much like “…socialism as dreamed of by Karl Marx.” He has announced that he fully intends to force the use of alternative energy sources, regardless of market forces, and regardless of cost.  He is determined to impose his will, and his judgment, precisely as Philip Dru imposed his power on Colonel House’s fictional society.  The society that is subject to Obama’s will, judgment, and administration, is not fictional, however; it is we the people of the United States.

Obama has also demonstrated his eagerness to align his administration with the directives of the international community.  He has pledged to join the U.N.’s plan to use carbon fuel as the basis for confiscating and redistributing enormous wealth through cap-and-trade programs and other direct taxation schemes.  He has welcomed the creation of an international mechanism for the control of the global economy.  He has announced his support and his intention to ratify several U.N. treaties that have been rejected by previous presidents.

Obama’s legacy will not be just the first black presidency.  His will be remembered in history as the administration that relegated the U.S. Constitution to irrelevance, streamlined the structure of government to minimize or eliminate checks and balances, and consolidated executive power into a position to be envied by kings, dictators, potentates – and even by Philip Dru. 

Philip Dru believed that “Our Constitution and our laws served us well for the first 100 years of our existence, but under conditions of today, they are not only obsolete, but even grotesque (p.222).”

There is an unsettling similarity between Obama’s actions and Phillip Dru’s belief.


Senate Rejects Funding to Close Guantanamo Prison – washingtonpost.com

Senate Rejects Funding to Close Guantanamo Prison – washingtonpost.com.

EXCLUSIVE: Congress to oversee CIA more closely – Washington Times

EXCLUSIVE: Congress to oversee CIA more closely – Washington Times.

The letter, which was sent Wednesday and made available to The Washington Times on Thursday, appeared to undercut remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that there was little Congress could do about harsh interrogations, including waterboarding. The Times reported last month that members of Congress, including Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, had been briefed on numerous occasions about the interrogation program for high-value detainees.

“One important lesson to me from the CIA’s interrogation operations involves congressional oversight,” wrote Mr. Reyes, Texas Democrat. “I’m going to examine closely ways in which we can change the law to make our own oversight of CIA more meaningful; I want to move from mere notification to real discussion. Good oversight can lead to a partnership, and that’s what I am looking to bring about.”

The letter both seeks to excuse Democrats who were briefed after Sept. 11, 2001, about interrogation techniques such as waterboarding and at the same time suggests that members of Congress cleared to receive highly classified material have a responsibility in the future to let their criticisms be known.

Click here to read Reyes’ letter to the CIA on the interrogations controversy (downloads 3-page pdf)

The budgeting process for the intelligence community gives members of the oversight committees authority to withhold funding for activities without disclosing classified programs. Nonetheless, last week, Mrs. Pelosi said of the briefings she received between 2002 and 2006, “They don’t come in to consult. They come in to notify.”

In the letter, Mr. Reyes expressed support for rank-and-file CIA employees.

“In recent days, as the public debate regarding the CIA’s interrogation practices has raged, you have been very much in my thoughts,” he said. “I write to let you know, without sound-bites or political calculus, my view on this debate and to remind you of my deep gratitude for the work you do each day.”

A former chairman of the House intelligence panel and its current ranking member, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican, called the Reyes letter “unprecedented.”

“I’ve got to believe the feedback they are getting from the community prompted this,” Mr. Hoekstra told The Times. “Here members of Congress knew all about these programs, and here fellow CIA employees are getting thrown under the bus. From my standpoint, I think it is unprecedented for the CIA to receive a letter like this from a chairman.”

Mr. Reyes has in the past sent out holiday greetings to the CIA work force.

CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf, when asked whether the letter had been sent to members of the agency work force, said, “the chairman addressed his letter to the men and women of the CIA, and it will be made known to them.”

Mike Delaney, staff director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Mr. Reyes had not received complaints from the CIA about President Obama’s decision last month to release Justice Department memos authorizing so-called enhanced interrogation and describing methods that Mr. Obama has banned.

“No, we’ve not received complaints from CIA work force,” Mr. Delaney said. “CIA employees, in the chairman’s experience, typically dont complain. The chairman, in light of the public discussion, wanted to remind CIA employees of his gratitude for their work.”

Mr. Hoekstra, who has taken to the media to blast Mr. Obama for releasing the Justice Department memos, said members of the agency have complained to him.

Mr. Obama has urged the nation to look forward with regard to the interrogation practices. But last month he also contradicted his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, leaving open the possibility that political appointees and government lawyers under the previous administration may be prosecuted by the Justice Department for approving techniques that violate anti-torture statutes.

Mr. Reyes wrote, “I wholeheartedly support the President’s decision that no CIA officer or contractor will be prosecuted for authorized actions they took in the context of interrogations. I may disagree with some of what the Agency was asked to do, but I understand that my disagreement lies with the policies, not with the officers executing those policies far from Washington.”

Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002

Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002.

Why are they still obsessed with embarrassing and harassing the past administration? This is all a continuation of the Saul Alinsky techniques being used on the past administration and the American people. At least the Bush administration did not cut off a terrorist’s head are or break a limb.  Waterboarding tames in comparison to what the terrorists do to Americans caught by  them. Ask Daniel Pearl (he can’t speak, his head was cut off) people that were waterboarded are alive. Daniel Pearl’s widow might have preferred to have her husband waterboarded. He didn’t get that chance did he?


Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002
In Meetings, Spy Panels’ Chiefs Did Not Protest, Officials Say

By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, December 9, 2007; A01


In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

“The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough,” said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

Congressional leaders from both parties would later seize on waterboarding as a symbol of the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism effort. The CIA last week admitted that videotape of an interrogation of one of the waterboarded detainees was destroyed in 2005 against the advice of Justice Department and White House officials, provoking allegations that its actions were illegal and the destruction was a coverup.

Yet long before “waterboarding” entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.

With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. 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. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan).

Individual lawmakers’ recollections of the early briefings varied dramatically, but officials present during the meetings described the reaction as mostly quiet acquiescence, if not outright support. “Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing,” said Goss, who chaired the House intelligence committee from 1997 to 2004 and then served as CIA director from 2004 to 2006. “And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement.”

Congressional officials say the groups’ ability to challenge the practices was hampered by strict rules of secrecy that prohibited them from being able to take notes or consult legal experts or members of their own staffs. And while various officials have described the briefings as detailed and graphic, it is unclear precisely what members were told about waterboarding and how it is conducted. Several officials familiar with the briefings also recalled that the meetings were marked by an atmosphere of deep concern about the possibility of an imminent terrorist attack.

“In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic,” said one U.S. official present during the early briefings. “But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, ‘We don’t care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.’ ”

Only after information about the practice began to leak in news accounts in 2005 — by which time the CIA had already abandoned waterboarding — did doubts about its legality among individual lawmakers evolve into more widespread dissent. The opposition reached a boiling point this past October, when Democratic lawmakers condemned the practice during Michael B. Mukasey’s confirmation hearings for attorney general.

GOP lawmakers and Bush administration officials have previously said members of Congress were well informed and were supportive of the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques. But the details of who in Congress knew what, and when, about waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning that is the most extreme and widely condemned interrogation technique — have not previously been disclosed.

U.S. law requires the CIA to inform Congress of covert activities and allows the briefings to be limited in certain highly sensitive cases to a “Gang of Eight,” including the four top congressional leaders of both parties as well as the four senior intelligence committee members. In this case, most briefings about detainee programs were limited to the “Gang of Four,” the top Republican and Democrat on the two committees. A few staff members were permitted to attend some of the briefings.

That decision reflected the White House’s decision that the “enhanced interrogation” program would be treated as one of the nation’s top secrets for fear of warning al-Qaeda members about what they might expect, said U.S. officials familiar with the decision. Critics have since said the administration’s motivation was at least partly to hide from view an embarrassing practice that the CIA considered vital but outsiders would almost certainly condemn as abhorrent.

Information about the use of waterboarding nonetheless began to seep out after a furious internal debate among military lawyers and policymakers over its legality and morality. Once it became public, other members of Congress — beyond the four that interacted regularly with the CIA on its most sensitive activities — insisted on being briefed on it, and the circle of those in the know widened.

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.”

Waterboarding Used on at Least 3

Waterboarding as an interrogation technique has its roots in some of history’s worst totalitarian nations, from Nazi Germany and the Spanish Inquisition to North Korea and Iraq. In the United States, the technique was first used five decades ago as a training tool to give U.S. troops a realistic sense of what they could expect if captured by the Soviet Union or the armies of Southeast Asia. The U.S. military has officially regarded the tactic as torture since the Spanish-American War.

In general, the technique involves strapping a prisoner to a board or other flat surface, and then raising his feet above the level of his head. A cloth is then placed over the subject’s mouth and nose, and water is poured over his face to make the prisoner believe he is drowning.

U.S. officials knowledgeable about the CIA’s use of the technique say it was used on three individuals — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; Zayn Abidin Muhammed Hussein Abu Zubaida, a senior al-Qaeda member and Osama bin Laden associate captured in Pakistan in March 2002; and a third detainee who has not been publicly identified.

Abu Zubaida, the first of the “high-value” detainees in CIA custody, was subjected to harsh interrogation methods beginning in spring 2002 after he refused to cooperate with questioners, the officials said. CIA briefers gave the four intelligence committee members limited information about Abu Zubaida’s detention in spring 2002, but offered a more detailed account of its interrogation practices in September of that year, said officials with direct knowledge of the briefings.

The CIA provided another briefing the following month, and then about 28 additional briefings over five years, said three U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge of the meetings. During these sessions, the agency provided information about the techniques it was using as well as the information it collected.

Lawmakers have varied recollections about the topics covered in the briefings.

Graham said he has no memory of ever being told about waterboarding or other harsh tactics. Graham left the Senate intelligence committee in January 2003, and was replaced by Rockefeller. “Personally, I was unaware of it, so I couldn’t object,” Graham said in an interview. He said he now believes the techniques constituted torture and were illegal.

Pelosi declined to comment directly on her reaction to the classified briefings. But a congressional source familiar with Pelosi’s position on the matter said the California lawmaker did recall discussions about enhanced interrogation. The source said Pelosi recalls that techniques described by the CIA were still in the planning stage — they had been designed and cleared with agency lawyers but not yet put in practice — and acknowledged that Pelosi did not raise objections at the time.

Harman, who replaced Pelosi as the committee’s top Democrat in January 2003, disclosed Friday that she filed a classified letter to the CIA in February of that year as an official protest about the interrogation program. Harman said she had been prevented from publicly discussing the letter or the CIA’s program because of strict rules of secrecy.

“When you serve on intelligence committee you sign a second oath — one of secrecy,” she said. “I was briefed, but the information was closely held to just the Gang of Four. I was not free to disclose anything.”

Roberts declined to comment on his participation in the briefings. Rockefeller also declined to talk about the briefings, but the West Virginia Democrat’s public statements show him leading the push in 2005 for expanded congressional oversight and an investigation of CIA interrogation practices. “I proposed without success, both in committee and on the Senate floor, that the committee undertake an investigation of the CIA’s detention and interrogation activities,” Rockefeller said in a statement Friday.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former Vietnam War prisoner who is seeking the GOP presidential nomination, took an early interest in the program even though he was not a member of the intelligence committee, and spoke out against waterboarding in private conversations with White House officials in late 2005 before denouncing it publicly.

In May 2007, four months after Democrats regained control of Congress and well after the CIA had forsworn further waterboarding, four senators submitted written objections to the CIA’s use of that tactic and other, still unspecified “enhanced” techniques in two classified letters to Hayden last spring, shortly after receiving a classified hearing on the topic. One letter was sent on May 1 by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.). A similar letter was sent May 10 by a bipartisan group of three senators: Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

In a rare public statement last month that broached the subject of his classified objections, Feingold complained about administration claims of congressional support, saying that it was “not the case” that lawmakers briefed on the CIA’s program “have approved it or consented to it.”

Staff writers Josh White and Walter Pincus and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.