Archive for the ‘Pelosi’ category

Sen. Wyden: Don’t let any one fool you that the Bush administration kept Congress in the loop on torture

May 17, 2009

Another U.S. Senator is challenging the CIA’s claims that members of Congress were properly briefed on Bush administration torture practices and policies.  Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was  a member on the Senate Intelligence Committee throughout the Bush years and has now added his voice to the growing chorus of those like Nancy Pelosi who say they were not properly briefed.  Wyden claims that his briefing did not come until 2006 — and was too little, too late.  MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Wyden and waves a copy of the CIA briefing list at him.  Wyden dismisses it and  pivots to the larger question — the illegal actions of the Bush administration in conducting a torture program in direct contravention of U.S. law and treaties.

Note how easily and dismissively Wyden moves away from the Pelosi question, for whatever reason, and zeroes in on what for him is a more central question: why aren’t we talking about the way in which the Bush administration consistently failed to inform properly? He claims he was “kept in the dark” until 2006, linking the Bush administration’s failures to the 1947 National Security Act, which he refers to a couple of times. That’s a nice summary link which is then applied to an analysis of the NSA wiretapping scandal–another prime example of the administration totally holding out on Congress. But it has this key section:

Under current statute, the President is to ensure that the congressional intelligence committees are kept “fully and currently informed” of U.S. intelligence activities, including any “significant anticipated intelligence activity.” According to legislative history, the term “fully and currently informed,” is intended to mean that complete and timely notice of actions and policies is provided, and that the committees will be informed of intelligence activities in such detail as the committees may require.Further, the Senate in report language said it expected the executive branch not to limit itself to providing full and complete information upon request from the committees, but to affirmatively keep the committees fully and currently informed. (more…)


Nancy Pelosi is a red herring

May 17, 2009

Not literally, of course — she’s not a rotting fish.  But the fingerpointing at the Speaker of the House is designed to acomplish two things, both detrimental to the Democratic agenda.

First, there misdirection play of claiming that Nancy is somehow responsible for not stopping the Bush torture program.  This is designed to turn the media’s attention away from the real culprits, the ones who designed, implemented, pushed and justified the torture program.  Dick Cheney, anyone?  What about Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove, David Addington, or Jay Bybee?  Or let’s point at the very top of the chain of command — the CIC himself! (more…)

Stark raving

October 21, 2007

There was in interesting discussion over at Firedoglake about Pelosi’s public rebuke of Pete Stark for his intemperate language during the SCHIP debate. Jane Hamsher, Digby and Scarecrow weigh in with their opinions laying out the situation as follows:

Scarecrow v. Jane v. Digby: A Debate on Pete Stark & Nancy Pelosi debate was triggered by Nancy Pelosi’s public rebuke of Pete Stark, and the rumor that Republicans will move on Monday to condemn Stark’s remarks in the House — jh)

JANE: Jesus Christ. What is wrong with her? She keeps doing stupid things like this and these McCarthy-ite resolutions will never end.

SCARECROW: Here are two scenarios:

1. During the debates over SCHIP, a member claims that the President enjoys blowing up US soldiers for the fun of it.

2. During the debates over SCHIP, no member makes any such claim but sticks to the merits of SCHIP.

I don’t have any problem saying I wish we were dealing with Scenario 2.

If you are the leadership, and you realize that under scenario 1, the member has just handed the Republicans a convenient distraction and a way to beat up on the image of your party, what should you do?

0. Commend the member for getting off a good one, because the other side is a bunch of jerks.

1. Ignore this.

2. Distance yourself/Party from the member’s remarks

3. Other?

In my opinion the discussion uses the wrong frame when analyzing Pelosi’s options. Instead of buying into the Republican frame that assumes that the Speaker is/was responsible for every word uttered by a member of her caucus and should be ready to leap to apologize if some Republican claimed to be offended by something said by a Democratic member of Congress, the Speaker should have taken a page from the Republican playbook. Pelosi should have re-framed the issue and done a adroit pivot to return the discussion to the urgent need for passage of the SCHIP bill and her intention to focus on that goal.

Here is the statement that Pelosi should have issued:

“I have known Pete Stark for a long time. He sometimes uses heated language in debate, particularly when talking something he cares deeply about, like the SCHIP bill. Members on both sides of the aisle sometimes use strong rhetoric in discussing issues on the floor of the House. We must remember that the important issue here is the passage of this crucial bill which is supported by a majority of the U.S. Congress and also a majority of the American people. The SCHIP is a bill which enjoys broad bi-partisan support in both houses of Congress. The SCHIP program has been successful in providing health insurance coverage to children in every state in the Union ever since it was first passed during the Clinton administration with the cooperation of a Republican-led Congress. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in finding a way to pass this vital bill with sufficient margin to override the President’s veto. ”

UPDATE:  In an unscientific CNN poll 88% said Stark did not need to apologize.  The consensus of the public at large seems to be contrary to Pelosi’s namby-pamby apologetic disavowal of Rep. Stark’s heated remarks on the House floor.

CNN is reporting that 88% of those voting in their Friday morning online poll say there is no reason Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) should apologize for remarks blasting President Bush on the floor of the House of Representatives.

In the course of debate on expanding SCHIP funding, Stark told Congressional Republicans (video, story), “You don’t have money to fund the war or children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people, if we could get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their head’s blow off for the president’s amusement.”

House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner quickly issued a statement demanding a retraction and apology, in which he said, “Our troops in Iraq are fighting against al-Qaeda and other radical jihadists hellbent on killing the people we are sent here to represent. Congressman Stark’s statement dishonors not only the Commander-in-Chief, but the thousands of courageous men and women of America’s armed forces who believe in their mission and are putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security.”

There has predictably been support for Stark on the left, along with endorsements of Boehner’s outrage on the right. A thread at the liberal Democratic Underground site asked members to “DU this CNN poll!” but also expressed amusement that the sentiment in favor of Stark was already running at 87% to 13%. One commenter suggested that “the poll has been Freeped, it was 89% before, now it’s 87%,” to which another replied “amazing what consitutes freeping these daze.”

“Freeping” is a reference to the practice initiated at the conservative Free Republic message board some years ago of sending members to overwhelm online polls with indications of support for right-wing policies and politicians. Liberal sites like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos then began countering this strategy with similar exhortations of their own.

The lopsided result of the CNN poll is striking, especially since the mainstream consensus seems to be that even if Stark was just shooting his mouth off, as he has many times in the past, he may have crossed a line of bad taste in suggesting that the president actively enjoys seeing American soldiers’ heads blown off.

For example, when Keith Olbermann indicated on his program that he felt there was “something refreshing about his at least refusal to back down,” guest Jonathan Alter responded that Stark’s comments were “silly and counterproductive, and the best thing for him to do would be to apologize and move on.”

MSNBC’s “First Read” blog eneumerated Stark’s history of inflammatory remarks: “On another occasion he publicly questioned the provenance of J.C. Watts’ offspring, comments that so enraged the former Oklahoma quarterback that he angrily marched up to Stark on the House floor and had to be restrained from beating the living daylights out of the 70-something liberal. Also, during a gun control debate some years back, Stark suggested that opponents of gun control were phallically challenged. And not too long ago, he called a GOP opponent on the Ways and Means committee a ‘fruitcake’ during committee proceedings.”