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Pelosi, Obama taking the heat for Bush team's terrorism policies

May 15, 2009 |  8:05 am

Suddenly, it's the Democrats who are taking heat for not stopping torture instead of the Republicans who implemented the enhanced interrogation tactics in the first place.

For one thing, conservatives are having a field day with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's assertion that the CIA, in a 2002 briefing, misled her about waterboarding of terrorism suspects. The speaker's case: CIA briefers told congressional leaders that they have legal opinions clearing the way for waterboarding but had not yet used the procedure.

Monica Crowley, in American Daily Review, writes, "Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. Sister Pelosi has gone stark raving mad. Girlfriend has clearly lost what was left of her mind, [she is] a woman in the throes of a full-on, all-encompassing nervous breakdown."

Missouri Sen. Kit Bond, appearing on MSNBC, said CIA agents don't lie and that the intelligence community is "the only defense we have against another attack." Asked about Pelosi's motives, he said, "She's stepped in it up beyond her ankles."

The moderate PoliGazette compared the San Francisco Democrat to another Californian: former President Richard Nixon, who resigned the presidency amid the Watergate scandal. Orson Buggeigh said Pelosi's accusation reminded him of the famous remarks by President Nixon: “I am not a crook.” Words, Buggeigh added, "which proved to be, shall we say, disingenuous."

Even Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer -- Pelosi's deputy in the House -- parted company from his boss. Asked about whether the Central Intelligence Agency lies to Congress, he said, "I have no idea of that. ... and I certainly hope that's not the case."

Hoyer, a technocrat without Pelosi's flair for leadership, may hope that if she is toppled, Democrats will turn to him for leadership. But as calls grow louder for an independent investigation into who knew what when, Hoyer and other Democrats are trying to steer the debate back to the authors of the torture policy -- the Bush administration's foreign policy team.

Piling on Pelosi, he said, is "a stalking horse. That's a distraction."

Meanwhile the White House is being slammed by liberal bloggers upset that President Obama according to aides, has decided to keep the Bush-era military commission system that he called "a failure" during the campaign. Obama plans to ask Congress to expand defendants' rights to contest charges against them, but that has hardly quieted the storm of liberal bloggers who erupted earlier in the week when he decided to fight release of photos of alleged abuse against prisoners.

Said TalkLeft,  "There's no fixing those military tribunals. If your team can't come up with a solution other than one that reverts to one of the worst policies of Bush Administration, it's time to get a new team in place.

-- Johanna Neuman

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