Rich Galen

It came to light this past week that the current Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) was one of several Members of Congress who were briefed on the kinds of "enhanced interrogation techniques" which have come under so much recent Congressional scrutiny and have been the subject of so much recent Liberal hand-wringing.

According to the Washington Post, Pelosi may have been joined by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) who is now the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Although, the juxtaposition of the name "Jay Rockefeller" and the word "Intelligence" has caused many thousands of dollars worth of beer to be wasted on Capitol Hill as it came spurting out of the noses of generations of Senate staffers of both parties.

Post writers Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen described the meeting: "Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said."

In the next graf:

"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange.

Now, let's play a mind-game. Let's pretend that the Speaker of the House is not Nancy Pelosi Democrat of San Francisco; but Newt Gingrich Republican of suburban Atlanta.

Imagine the shrieks of outrage, from House Democrats as they, quaking with righteous indignation in the Well of the House, demanded - DEMANDED - to know what did Newt know about waterboarding and when did he know it.

WATERBOARDING-GATE!

Democratic staffers clamoring to have their boss be the first to file charges (for conduct unbecoming or something … anything) against Newt would make the House Ethics Committee office look like the run-on-the-bank scene from "It's a Wonderful Life."

MoveOn.org and its client-state the Democratic National Committee would be apoplectic in their outrage that the Speaker could have known about such interrogation techniques and not have taken immediate steps to shut it down.

Further, there would be riots in the press galleries …

I almost wrote "hunger strikes" but I have been around reporters long enough to understand that love of food ranks second only to love of the clause in the First Amendment dealing with freedom of the press - and a darned close second at that.

… if Newt didn't immediately divulge who the "two lawmakers" were who "asked the CIA to push harder" and which member of the Congressional delegation had asked "if the methods were tough enough."

Questioners in the 1,857th candidate debate would grill the Republican Presidential candidates to determine - perhaps by asking for a show of hands - if they supported Newt's complicity in keeping waterboarding secret from the rest of Congress and, thus, the American people.

But, alas, nothing of the sort has, or will, happen because the Speaker of the House is not Newt Gingrich, but Nancy Pelosi.

The Post reported that while she now believes, that at the time, the techniques were still in the planning stage:

"Pelosi declined to comment directly on her reaction to the classified briefings. But a congressional source … said the California lawmaker did recall discussions about enhanced interrogation … and acknowledged that Pelosi did not raise objections at the time." [emphasis mine]

Why now and not then? Partisan politics.

There was no partisan gain in objecting to those techniques in the months following 9/11 and so she didn't. As we have moved farther way, it has become politically safe to protest, no matter how dangerous the policy, security, or intelligence implications.

That, in a nutshell, defines the Politics of Pelosi: "Nothing trumps partisan politics."


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.