Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Pelosi and war crimes

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Interesting article by Daphne Eviatar in the Washington Independent:

For those of you who missed it, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show last night featured a terrific and news-breaking interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.),  in which Pelosi talked about, among other things, holding Bush administration officials criminally accountable.

As I’ve written before, Pelosi has been a bit cagey in the past about just what sort of criminal accountability she’s looking for.  She has previously mentioned holding former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Bush aide and adviser Karl Rove — both of whom ignored congressional subpoenas while citing executive privilege — in contempt of Congress, as well as investigating the politicization of the Justice Department, but Pelosi has been relatively quiet on the authorization of torture by former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Last night, Pelosi clarified her views a bit — sort of. Asked by Maddow if she’d support a ‘truth commission’ along the lines of the one proposed on the Senate floor yesterday by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Pelosi said she supports an investigation, but she isn’t happy about providing immunity for Bush officials who broke the law. “I want to go forward but as we try to have reconciliation … I don’t think we should have immunity for some of those issues,” she said.

On one hand, this suggests that she’s even more gung-ho about prosecuting alleged criminal activity during the Bush administration than most members of Congress. But as Maddow pointed out later, that view also gives Pelosi a convenient excuse to oppose the Leahy truth commission, just as it’s gaining momentum — not only in Congress, but with the American public. That could be a way to prevent an in-depth investigation into exactly how it is that the U.S. government came to authorize the torture of terror suspects — including the role of Democrats who were briefed on the CIA’s tactics.

Not one to let such things go, Maddow specifically asked Pelosi about that as well. Pelosi’s response? …

Continue reading. And Daphne Eviatar also wrote this:

Office of Legal Counsel Director-nominee Dawn Johnsen confirmed today that the OLC does not have the authority to give the president a green light to ignore congressional statutes, such as a prohibition on torture. “It was absolutely wrong for the president to direct that the torture statute not be complied with.”

Referring to former Bush administration OLC attorney John Yoo’s “torture memo” that defined torture in only the most extreme terms and still didn’t ban it, she said: “I have written very critically of that opinion … my view is that that opinion was not written in the best traditions of the office and did not reflect that principle that legal advice should be impartial, independent, principled and accurate.”

Johnson also confirmed that she would not interfere with the release of the Office of Professional Responsibility report about the integrity and competence of previous OLC opinions, which did approve presidential authority to violate congressional statutes.

Written by Leisureguy

27 February 2009 at 12:18 pm

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