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May 18, 2009

Pelosi Blows Democrats’ Shot at Getting Torture Justice


If you were ever looking for a reason the Democratic Party shouldn’t be allowed to control things, it came last week when the issue of torture centered on what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it. It was not an idea that Pelosi knew about torture and did nothing to stop it that is evidence of Democratic incompetence, but the idea that they’d allow the story to be turned so quickly and thoroughly from an indictment against people who actually carried it out to what was at the time the minority party in every sense of the word.


Think back, if you will, to the time frame relevant to the story – 2002-03. These were the years when the U.S. acknowledges that it repeatedly engaged in interrogation techniques widely condemned as torture by practically everyone who knows anything about interrogation and torture. At the time, the Democratic Party had just completed its transformation into an ineffectual rump on the American political scene. It had managed to turn the political capital created by the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years into two straight election cycles of stinging defeat. It was such an ineffective organization that it couldn’t even prevent a new president with low poll numbers and no mandate due to the highly questionable nature of his election from enacting tax cuts of a dubious nature or enacting educational reforms widely unpopular before the ink dried that had the smell of bipartisan support.


It was that old incompetence that resurfaced last week, and that had Pelosi stammering and sputtering that she knew nothing about waterboarding back when her party was so deeply in the minority that there was widespread belief it might never recover. Thanks to her performance, questioned for its veracity immediately by its target – an agency that very probably admitted it broke U.S. and international law by saying it had briefed her on it – made it much more likely that criminal prosecutions will not be forthcoming. Thanks to Pelosi’s inept handling, today’s Democratic majority is an equal co-conspirator in a systematic and purposeful program of torture from years ago and that will leave a dark stain on the nation’s image for a long time.


Only the Democratic Party could see to it that prosecuting torture is made politically unfeasible.


The Obama Administration, at least as of this moment (who’s to say from minute to minute), has earned part of that black mark. Once the president declared waterboarding to be torture – an opinion consistent with both domestic legal precedence and international law – it should have started the machinery of the criminal justice system working. That is, a nation that hauls its chief executive before a public tribunal for lying about an affair unearthed during a political witch hunt has no excuse in not taking to trial people who have violated every basic concept of humane and decent treatment of others.


That didn’t happen, providing the opening through which Pelosi could be exploited as if she were as guilty as the administration officials who ordered it to happen.


The result was a disgraceful positioning of political posturing over what is right – rather than coming clean, Pelosi sought to cover her own backside, which allowed Republicans to turn the issue into a political food fight. How can a nation that treats torture in such a way ever again expect the world to take it seriously as a champion for human rights?


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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