House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal) has been in the forefront of those
Democrats who've been urging that the Justice Department lawyers who
declared lawful the "enhanced interrogation techniques" the CIA employed
on a handful of al Qaida bigwigs be prosecuted.
A report last week from the Director of National Intelligence to the
Senate Intelligence Committee makes it plain Ms. Pelosi then the
ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee was fully
briefed on those techniques, and made no objection to them.
On Sept. 4, 2002, Ms. Pelosi, Rep. Porter Goss (then the chairman of the
House Intelligence Committee and later CIA Director) and two aides were
briefed by the CIA. The briefing was entitled: "Briefing on EITs
including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a
description of particular EITs that had been employed."
Disclosure of the report makes it plain to all but the willfully blind
that Ms. Pelosi was lying at a news conference in April when she said:
"We were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of
these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used."
Mr. Goss had intimated as much in an op-ed in the Washington Post April
25: "I am slack-jawed that members claim to have not understood that the
techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or
that specific techniques such as 'waterboarding' were never mentioned."
I noted in an earlier column the Bush presidency began to implode when
some senior officials in the CIA began a covert campaign against him,
and speculated that President Obama and Congressional Democrats risked
making a formidable enemy by disclosing explicit details of the
interrogation techniques, and waffling over whether the CIA officers who
employed them might be subject to prosecution. It seems to me the CIA
has drawn its first Democratic blood.
CIA Director Leon Panetta tried to give Ms. Pelosi cover by asserting in
a cover letter that the CIA memo may not have been accurate, which is
not a good way to improve morale at the agency he nominally heads. But
Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich), the ranking Republican on the House
Intelligence Committee, hinted in an interview with a Capitol Hill
newspaper the CIA has more shoes to drop on Ms. Pelosi's head.
"He has seen documents that would clarify exactly what the Speaker was
briefed on," Mr. Hoekstra's press secretary told a reporter after the
It is shabby enough when politicians develop amnesia for partisan
reasons, as when Sens. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton forgot why it was
they had voted to authorize war with Iraq. But what Ms. Pelosi did was
much worse. She was proposing to ruin the lives of lawyers who had
acted in good faith by rendering opinions with which she recorded no
objection to at the time. She wasn't just trying to criminalize a
policy disagreement. She was trying to criminalize ex post facto a
policy she'd agreed with.
Thanks to this disclosure about Ms. Pelosi, we probably will hear little
more about prosecution of former Bush administration officials. As
Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard asked: "How can Democrats in
Congress possibly investigate the alleged abuses of the Bush
administration when their own leader was complicit in approving the very
techniques they would now call torture?" Now it's Republicans who want
to have hearings.
Like Speaker Pelosi, President Obama is discovering that pandering to
the moonbats isn't cost free. Congress has refused to fund closure of
the prison at Guantanamo Bay until the president makes clear what he
intends to do with the terrorists incarcerated there. The prospect that
some will be released into the civilian population has Democrats
scurrying for cover.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama denounced the Bush administration's
plans to try some of the terrorists by military commissions as "an
enormous failure." But now that he's president, Mr. Obama has decided
military commissions are a good idea after all. Hypocrisy is the
tribute vice pays to virtue.