CIA memos said to be dating back to when Vice President Joe Biden was a senator discuss the possibility of using him to coerce suspected terrorist detainees into providing information on new terror plots.
“The idea apparently was to assign high-target detainees to ride with Biden on his daily commute from Wilmington, Delaware, to the Senate,” said an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the Speaker now believes she remembers once being briefed by CIA officials on the proposed method.
The detainee would be forced to sit next to Senator Biden for the 2 ½-hour train ride to and from Wilmington and endure the Senator’s famous reputation for garrulousness and loquacious chatter, the memos reportedly state. “The CIA referred to the enhanced interrogation technique as ‘all a-boarding,’” the aide to Pelosi added.
The aide said the decision to announce the possible existence of these memos is a further attempt to explain what the Speaker knew and didn’t know about the actual use of interrogation techniques later defined as torture.
“As you can see, it was all very confusing with all the different techniques being proposed,” the aide explained. “The Speaker was trying hard to keep it all straight.”
With varying degrees of success, too, according the aide who admitted that the notes from one of Pelosi’s CIA briefing referred to “snowboarding” instead of “waterboarding.” The notes may help to explain why Speaker Pelosi returned to her office that afternoon reportedly asking staffers, “whether snowboarding was torture?”
A spokesman for the CIA refused to confirm or deny memos discussing the possible use of Senator Biden in interrogations, but noted that, “you’d have to consider the possibility of the former senator inadvertently giving out more information than he was receiving.”
While somewhat embarrassed over the whole briefing controversy that has erupted between the Speaker and the CIA, some Pelosi aides are convinced that claiming the CIA “lied” to her was probably a mistake.
“Calling an agency whose entire existence is based on secrecy and deceit ‘liars,’ is a little like suggesting former Vice President Cheney is a paranoid hysteric,” the aide said. “You know, ‘Well, duh!’”
An assistant to Vice President Biden said in a statement that while “the vice president is flattered that he could assist the CIA in uncovering terror plots, he can confirm that spending extended time with him on a train, while possibly painful, would nevertheless fail to meet the threshold of torture.”
It could not be confirmed whether additional techniques that would subject detainees to other forms of pressure were still under consideration by the CIA. Those techniques are believed to include releasing detainees and forcing them to apply for subprime mortgages or credit cards containing excessive fees, arbitrary rates and hidden charges.
A stumbling block to approving these enhanced techniques apparently occurred when Justice department opinions suggested those practices would probably be considered a form of “economic torture” protected by the Geneva Conventions if not the federal government.