Speaker Nancy Pelosi has never been one to shy away from a good fight. This time, she has entered a battle that is very much of her own making. Her reversals and confusing explanations have shifted the debate from whether former Bush-Cheney officials should be investigated and possibly prosecuted for their roles in the torturing of terrorism suspects to what she knew and when she found out about it. Give the Republicans credit for adroitly exploiting the diversion after the Dick Cheney media offensive was clearly becoming a liability for the GOP. Nothing better than to put the Speaker on the defensive and shift the debate away from their increasingly disturbing record on torture.
This being said, the torture debate is only heating up. The evidence increasingly seems to suggest that torture was used to link 9/11 to Iraq and thereby justify the invasion. There is now evidence that torture was going on while Bush was telling the nation the exact opposite. What really matters is whether the US government knowingly contravened domestic law, the Constitution or the Geneva Conventions. Either of those scenarios would be enough to justify a special non-partisan or bipartisan commission to get to the truth.
This weekend, Cheney’s daughter Liz referred to Obama’s actions on national security as un-Americain. Later in the week, Cheney will once again justify the actions of his administration on “enhanced interrogation techniques” before a right wing, partisan crowd at the American Enterprise Institute. But there is nothing quite as effective as using Pelosi to make Americans forget the real perpetrators of torture and the extent to which it was used.