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Hullabaloo


Monday, December 10, 2007

 
Cards On The Table

by digby

Despite some very passionate arguments that Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller should not be held liable for doing nothing about the torture regime they were briefed on, because it will short circuit the investigations about the destruction of the torture tapes, I remain unconvinced.As Glenn Greenwald says:

I continue to be amazed and disturbed by the number of people willing to defend the actions of Rockefeller and his comrades by claiming that these poor, victimized Congressional members just have no ability to do anything when they learn about outright lawbreaking by the administration. As I asked yesterday, why would they even bother to attend briefings if they believed that they were "powerless" to act even upon learning of serious illegalities? Here is the central purpose of the Select Committee on Intelligence -- the primary reason it exists, as stated by the resolution which created the Committee:
It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.
The Intelligence Committees were created as a response to the discovery in the 1970s of illegal conduct by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The core function is to monitor what the intelligence community does and to "assure that such activities" are legal. It is a complete travesty for the senior Democrats on those Committees (and their apologists) to claim that they are powerless to act when learning of lawbreaking. Anyone who thinks that way should not be on the Committee. The idea that they can't do anything once learning of lawbreaking is the very opposite of the Committee's core purpose. But, of course, they were not and are not powerless to act. They simply chose not to act.


In the case of Pelosi, she is now saying that she was only informed of what they were planning to do and not what they had done --- and that she was told it was all legal. She claims she concurred with Jane Harman's written "objections" a year later (which means she knew about that too.) I don't know why that should mitigate her responsibility. Surely, during the past few years, she has come to realize that the administration did go ahead and authorize torture and that it was illegal. We all know this.

When the Military Commissions Act farce was being played out, it was obvious that the Democrats didn't want to take responsibility for stopping the administration from torturing terrorism suspects and imprisoning them indefinitely. They stood back and left it all up to St. John McCain, the bowl of lukewarm spit John Warner and their little dog Huckleberry to carry their water. Pelosi thought that was very clever:


Pelosi on the Torture Bill

I spoke to Nancy Pelosi about a week ago and she seemed to be enjoying the infighting among Republicans on Bush’s torture bill. She also possessed a moral clarity that the bill flew in the face of both the constitution and human decency. From my interview with the House minority leader:

They’re getting their comeuppance from their own party on this.

They did this because they thought they were going to engage us in a fight. ‘We want to try these people; you don’t.’ But they were flying right in the face of the constitution as well as any sense of decency.

Even if you want to forget about a sense of decency and just say in terms of reciprocity: We don’t want this to happen to our people so were not doing it to anybody else. Separate and apart from the fact that there are international standards for this, and we have a constitution that we want to honor.

And on top of this, and this is the most important part, in terms of having justice be done for 9/11. It’s five years later they have no convictions. They won’t have any convictions that will be upheld by the Supreme Court unless they follow certain principles. And so not one person directly responsible for 9/11 has been convicted and/or punished. Because they have this sense that they can operate outside the law outside of any regime or convention that relates to human dignity.


The question is, now that the president has brought McCain back onto the reservation with only a few cosmetic tweaks, will Pelosi’s moral clarity translate into actual opposition to this still indecent, un-American bill?


Pelosi and Reid were supposedly counting on Republicans of good will to make their argument,and they were either badly mistaken in their trust or they just didn't want to get their hands dirty. That bill, as we know, basically ended up authorizing torture, not outlawing it. It's hard to believe these Democrats who knew about the torture regime (or "planned" torture regime) could do more than stand aside and let Lindsey Graham "negotiate" with Dick Cheney. So much for moral clarity.

I realize that Porter Goss and others are likely trying to taint Democrats with their own bad acts by leaking this information. But sadly, these Democrats actually do seem to be complicit. If it's the case that they have been being blackmailed with this information all these years, then Goss was quite foolish to show his cards. Now these Democrats have little to lose by revealing what they know, and they should. They must all come clean, take their medicine and tell the American people what they knew about the administration's torture regime from the beginning. They may suffer politically for it, but then they probably deserve to.

There is nothing stopping Speaker Pelosi from holding hearings on the tapes and the torture regime as a whole. It's all "out there" now.


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