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Madame Speaker, Have You No Decency?

How can Nancy Pelosi seek to prosecute Bush officials for condoning "torture" when she herself seemed unconcerned when briefed about the practices?

by
Jennifer Rubin

Bio

May 11, 2009 - 10:00 am
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The Democrats are in quite a fix. In an attempt to satisfy their netroot base and continue their vendetta against the Bush administration they have set themselves up for the charge of hypocrisy, perhaps the only unforgivable sin in politics. The subject of course is the CIA interrogation tactics.

In their efforts to smear and perhaps prosecute Bush administration lawyers and specifically two attorneys — John Yoo and Jay Bybee — who drafted the now-released interrogation memos, they have themselves become ensnared in a bubbling controversy.

Politico reports:

For Democrats pushing an investigation into potential criminal wrongdoing in the war on terrorism, the GOP now has a two-word response: Nancy Pelosi.

Republicans say new revelations about a CIA briefing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received in 2002 have given them their best shot yet at blocking a sprawling probe into Bush administration interrogation techniques by allowing them to insist that its targets would include the speaker of the House. “If someone is going to schedule hearings, I believe that the first witness should be Nancy Pelosi,” Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member on the House intelligence committee told Politico. “Clearly, she was involved in policy formulation.”

But it is not just Republicans who are going in for the kill. Mainstream reporters like Mara Liasson (“this becomes a big problem, because it looks like the Democrats are being hypocrites”) and liberal columnists like Marty Peretz (“I’m Sick of Pelosi, Her Sanctimony and Her as Speaker; Maybe She Should Hand the Gavel Over to Jane Harman”) have joined the conservatives who wonder how it is that Pelosi can seek to prosecute Bush officials for failing to realize they were condoning “torture” when she and other Democrats seemed unconcerned about these same practices when they were briefed.

Pelosi is not alone, of course. Jay Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee from 2007 to 2009, is hip deep in this as well. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The West Virginian was briefed at least 12 times more about interrogation techniques, legal authorities and other aspects of the program. The last, in June 2008, was offered to 10 members of the Senate Intelligence Committee and covered “discussion of EITs and the OLC [Office of Legal Counsel] opinions. Specific mentions of waterboarding numerous time.”

Yet in October 2008, following a Washington Post report on the existence of the OLC memos, Mr. Rockefeller disclaimed any knowledge of the opinions. “If White House documents exist that set the policy for the use of coercive techniques such as waterboarding, those documents have been kept from the committee,” said Mr. Rockefeller. “That is unacceptable, and represents the latest example of the Bush Administration withholding critical information from Congress and the American people in an attempt to limit our oversight of sensitive intelligence collection activities.”

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