Pelosi makes her case

PELOSI MAKES HER CASE…. It’s not every day that the Speaker of the House accuses CIA officials of lying to Congress about torture.

Pelosi repeated that she had not been told about the use of torture techniques, despite the claim in the recently released CIA documents that she had been. “I am saying that the CIA was misleading the Congress,” she said.

Pelosi was less clear when asked about reports that her top aide had been briefed about waterboarding in 2003 and told her about it. She said she was told that her aide “had been briefed about the use of certain techniques,” but added that there was little she could have done to protest.

Pelosi also said she supports the full release of CIA notes and memos detailing who was told what and when, as GOP Rep Pete Hoekstra has been demanding. “I would be very happy if they would release the briefings,” she said, reiterating her call for a truth commission.

In general, I find the interest in what Pelosi knew and when to be something of a distraction. In fact, the Republicans’ criticism of the Speaker needs a little work. The first GOP line is, “The Bush administration didn’t torture; everything was legal; and even having this discussion is outrageous.” The second GOP line is, “We demand to know what Pelosi knew about the Bush administration’s torture policies.”

The arguments don’t quite add up.

Perhaps it’s time to refocus. Isn’t it far more important to know the whole truth about the torture policies and those who authorized them than it is to know what kind of briefings lawmakers received?

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Pelosi was less than forceful in pushing back in 2002 and 2003, serving at the time as House Minority Leader. Maybe the briefings she received at the time were deliberately vague, and the CIA — which had a strong incentive to play fast and loose with the details — chose to keep lawmakers in the dark a bit. Maybe Pelosi was glad. Maybe both.

But I’m curious, why is Pelosi the one hosting press conferences and being peppered with questions, while those who were actually responsible for the torture have precious little to say?