Saturday, May 16, 2009
The Politics of Torture
The Fuss Over Pelosi-- E.J. Dionne from the Washington Post
There is something very strange about seeing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the middle of a controversy over the Bush Administration’s policies on torture. Pelosi had nothing to do with the policy, yet she is facing all of the what-did-she-know-when questions. Republicans who opposed disclosure of the memos on the torture policy now want Pelosi to tell all about herself. My hunch is that the pressure on Pelosi will backfire on the G.O.P. by forcing a truth commission, or at least lots of hearings, and much more disclosure. Pelosi has been, shall we say, less than artful in her handling of this. Dana Milbank, in his typically pungent way, captured the take-away from her news conference Thursday when he wrote that Pelosi “performed the delicate art of backtracking while walking sideways.” Nonetheless, her claim that the CIA did not brief her in 2002 about the use of waterboarding is -- contrary to what my friend Ramesh Ponnuru suggests elsewhere – entirely plausible. Pelosi received at least indirect support from former Sen. Bob Graham who told MSNBC that “when I was briefed, which was about three weeks after the Speaker, the subject of waterboarding did not come up.” It actually matters whether Congress was fully briefed or not, and we need to know. I have been more sympathetic to normal Congressional hearings on all this than a truth commission, but given all the claims and counter-claims, maybe a truth commission is the only way to establish what happened and why so we can avoid a mess like this in the future.
If you can't trust Bob Graham, you can't trust anybody.
For a clear-eyed view of what was done in our name in Iraq, check this out.