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Wed

12

Dec

2007

So, Madam Speaker: Anything else you haven't told us?
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 11:41
'Theby Weldon Berger

Among the questions raised by coverage of the revelation that Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats knew for years that the Bush administration had ratified torture as official U.S. policy is why so many of those who decried the possibility continue to support, or at least to countenance, Pelosi's continued tenure as Speaker of the House. Among the questions begged by it is whether or not she and her colleagues are sitting on other, as yet unleaked administration illegalities. Given the administration's stated intent to "push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop", the likely answer is "of course"; just what those activities might be, we won't know until someone outside Congress leaks the details.

On the first point, regardless the motivations of whoever leaked the news about Pelosi, Jay Rockefeller and Jane Harman having been briefed on the torture agenda, the fact remains that they were briefed and remained silent. Torture is not only illegal under domestic law; it's a crime against humanity and by declining to impede it, Pelosi et al became minor war criminals. Yet among widely-read progressive, liberal or Democratic commentators, none are calling on any of the trio to resign. At Daily Kos, one of the headliners actually mounts a somewhat spirited defense of Pelosi. Glenn Greenwald has harsh words for Rockefeller and Digby makes a typically lyrical case against the trio, but neither call for serious repercussions. Search Google News for anything stronger, such as a demand for resignations, and you find ... not much other than me.

It's true that Pelosi and company didn't design and implement the torture regimen, but in a sane world, all that would earn them is lighter sentences at the war crimes trial. They allowed it to happen. Harman wrote a (classified) letter of protest, which Pelosi thought was a good idea, if not good enough to warrant her signature on the missive, but they did absolutely nothing to prevent the crime, which is itself a crime. Rockefeller even voted for the despicable Military Commissions Act of 2006, which among other delights immunized Bush administration torturers and officials from prosecution under the War Crimes Act—Harman and Pelosi had the good grace to vote against it, as did all but two House Democrats, but Pelosi has done nothing since becoming Speaker to redress the travesty, and indeed, she has ceded any authority to do so. How can she withdraw immunity from mere government employees committing a crime to which she herself is a party?

There are, however, any number of Democrats who never served on the intelligence committee, never swore the secrecy oath that Harman and Pelosi believe supercedes the public one they took to preserve and defend the Constitution, and so were never compromised by guilty knowledge, or at least not officially. Pelosi should at a minimum resign her post and support one of those people—perhaps David Obey, who is at least momentarily defying both Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the White House on the subject of perpetual funding for the Iraq occupation.

On the second point, the question of what in addition to waterboarding and other unnamed barbarities the so-called Gang of Four—the House and Senate intelligence committee chairs and ranking minority members—are concealing, we simply won't know until someone with more spine and rectitude leaks the information. All three Democrats involved, Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller, have made clear that they won't be the first to spill the beans.

I harbor no illusions that Pelosi will find a conscience lying around the tunnel from the House parking lot to her rather splendid office, but I invite you to join me in suggesting that she resign anyway. Her telephone number is 202.225.4965. 

It's true that Pelosi and company didn't design and implement the torture regimen, but in a sane world, all that would earn them is lighter sentences at the war crimes trial. They allowed it to happen. Harman wrote a (classified) letter of protest, which Pelosi thought was a good idea, if not good enough to warrant her signature on the missive, but they did absolutely nothing to prevent the crime, which is itself a crime. Rockefeller even voted for the despicable Military Commissions Act of 2006, which among other delights immunized Bush administration torturers and officials from prosecution under the War Crimes Act—Harman and Pelosi had the good grace to vote against it, as did all but two House Democrats, but Pelosi has done nothing since becoming Speaker to redress the travesty, and indeed, she has ceded any authority to do so. How can she withdraw immunity from mere government employees committing a crime to which she herself is a party? There are, however, any number of Democrats who never served on the intelligence committee, never swore the secrecy oath that Harman and Pelosi believe supercedes the public one they took to preserve and defend the Constitution, and so were never compromised by guilty knowledge, or at least not officially. Pelosi should at a minimum resign her post and support one of those people—perhaps David Obey, who is at least momentarily defying both Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the White House on the subject of perpetual funding for the Iraq occupation. On the second point, the question of what in addition to waterboarding and other unnamed barbarities the so-called Gang of Four—the House and Senate intelligence committee chairs and ranking minority members—are concealing, we simply won't know until someone with more spine and rectitude leaks the information. All three Democrats involved, Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller, have made clear that they won't be the first to spill the beans. I harbor no illusions that Pelosi will find a conscience lying around the tunnel from the House parking lot to her rather splendid office, but I invite you to join me in suggesting that she resign anyway. Her telephone number is 202.225.4965.   
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