A lot of Republicans owe Pelosi an apology

In May a chorus of Republicans inside and outside Congress made hay out of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that the Central Intelligence Agency had not revealed its waterboarding policy during a 2002 briefing. Many demanded an investigation into the allegations. Minority leader John Boehner said of Pelosi,

“She made this claim and it’s her responsibility to either put forward evidence that they did in fact lie to her, which would be a crime, or she needs to retract her statements and apologize.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was among the Republican talking heads who demanded Pelosi’s resignation. According to Gingrich’s, Pelosi’s assertion was “stunning” and “dishonest.”

Representative Steve “10 Worst” King (IA-05) accused Pelosi of “actively undermining our national security” and called for suspending the speaker’s security clearance:

Speaker Pelosi has accused the CIA of committing a federal crime – lying to Congress. The CIA and other American defense and intelligence agencies cannot trust Nancy Pelosi with our national secrets, let alone our national security, until this matter is resolved. If true, there has been a serious violation of federal law. If false, American national security requires a new Speaker of the House. The severity of Speaker Pelosi’s accusations leaves no middle ground, and her security clearance should be suspended pending investigation.

Now we have learned that

The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday. […]

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

So not only was Congress misled, CIA staff did not even inform Panetta about the program until four months after he was sworn in. Charles Lemos is absolutely right that it’s time for a special prosecutor to investigate this matter.

Republicans who trashed Pelosi in May and June owe her an apology, but like Rude Pundit, I’m not holding my breath. They’ve always been easygoing about Bush administration law-breaking while throwing fits about Democrats who criticized it.

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New details about Justice Department investigation on torture memos (updated)

I support Senator Patrick Leahy’s call for a “truth commission” to investigate abuses of power by officials in George W. Bush’s administration. People who participated in or encouraged official law-breaking need to be held accountable, or at least exposed to public scrutiny.

Judging from this report by Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, we have a lot more to learn about how Justice Department attorneys twisted the law to serve King George:

An internal Justice Department report on the conduct of senior lawyers who approved waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics is causing anxiety among former Bush administration officials. H. Marshall Jarrett, chief of the department’s ethics watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), confirmed last year he was investigating whether the legal advice in crucial interrogation memos “was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys.” According to two knowledgeable sources who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. It sharply criticized the legal work of two former top officials-Jay Bybee and John Yoo-as well as that of Steven Bradbury, who was chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the time the report was submitted, the sources said. […]

[T]he OPR probe began after Jack Goldsmith, a Bush appointee who took over OLC in 2003, protested the legal arguments made in the memos. Goldsmith resigned the following year after withdrawing the memos, and later wrote that he was “astonished” by the “deeply flawed” and “sloppily reasoned” legal analysis in the memos by Yoo and Bybee, including their assertion (challenged by many scholars) that the president could unilaterally disregard a law passed by Congress banning torture.

OPR investigators focused on whether the memo’s authors deliberately slanted their legal advice to provide the White House with the conclusions it wanted, according to three former Bush lawyers who asked not to be identified discussing an ongoing probe. One of the lawyers said he was stunned to discover how much material the investigators had gathered, including internal e-mails and multiple drafts that allowed OPR to reconstruct how the memos were crafted.

Too bad this report didn’t come out in time for University of Iowa Law School faculty to ask Yoo about it when he was in Iowa City last week.

Do any Bleeding Heartland readers happen to teach at the U of I Law School? I’d love to hear how his talk went. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com) if you heard Yoo speak or took part in protesting his appearance.

UPDATE: Daily Kos user Vyan has much more background in this diary and speculates that Yoo and Bybee could be disbarred for their role in writing the torture memos. I would be very surprised if it comes to that. I don’t think state bar associations like political controversies.

SECOND UPDATE: A little bird tells me that Yoo’s appearance in Iowa City was uneventful, and no one present asked him about the torture memos. I have to question why any university would invite a “newsmaker” to speak if no one’s going to ask about the controversy that made the person famous. Mr. desmoinesdem wonders if Yoo insists on a promise not to ask about the torture memos before agreeing to speak to any audience. Anyone out there know the answer?

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