For daring to voice her objections to Bush's torture, Nancy Pelosi has come under increasingly vitriolic attacks from the GOP's media mouthpieces. Karl Rove used a WSJ column to call her "an accomplice to 'torture'," MediaMatters points out that this accusation, not surprisingly, is false:
Rove's claim is not consistent with either the definition of "accomplice" or with the reality of Pelosi's ability to influence the Bush administration's conduct of interrogations. Black's Law Dictionary defines an accomplice as "[o]ne who knowingly, voluntarily and with common intent unites with the principal offender in the commission of a crime." Black's states further: "One is liable as an accomplice to the crime of another if he gave assistance or encouragement or failed to perform a legal duty to prevent it with the intent thereby to promote or facilitate commission of the crime."
But Pelosi could not have "failed to perform a legal duty to prevent" the conduct if she was in fact powerless to stop it.
Newt Gingrich unloaded on her as well:
"I think this is the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I've seen in my lifetime. [...] She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowist [sic] of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior."
Newt's hypocrisy knows no bounds--and neither does his projection--but Anonymous Liberal's "Pelosi-gate" summary puts the blame where it belongs: "To the extent Nancy Pelosi knew about the Bush administration's torture program and didn't raise objections, she deserves to be criticized."
But there's a HUGE difference between ordering the commission of war crimes and simply being on notice that they may be occurring. On the list of culpable actors, of which there are many, the people who lacked the courage to protest are far down the list, particularly those like Nancy Pelosi who had no real say in what was going on (remember she was the minority leader; the Bush administration did not care what she thought about anything).
Finally, and this is worth emphasizing, Pelosi herself is calling for the creation of a Truth Commission, which presumably would explore what everyone knew and when. The level of hypocrisy and incoherence it takes for Republicans to point to Pelosi as being some sort of key figure in this scandal is astounding. And the fact that the press corps would latch on to this rather ridiculous diversion is telling.
The blame, in fact, goes all the way to the top of the previous administration. The beginning of this YouTube clip features Dick Cheney explaining to Bob Schieffer last weekend that Bush signed off on the torture program:
TPM has the transcript:
SCHIEFFER: Did President Bush know everything you knew?
CHENEY: I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe he knew -- he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it.
Even if Pelosi knew about waterboarding, the (so-called) liberal media's spin on this as a Democratic scandal is ludicrous. Joe Conason's "We Tortured to Justify War" reminds us that the reason for Bush's torture was the fabrication of 'intelligence' to justify the Iraq invasion:
Cheney now claims that he preserved the country from terrorism and saved thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. We need a serious investigation, with witnesses including the former vice-president under oath, to determine what he and his associates actually did with the brutal powers they arrogated to themselves -- because instead their actions cost thousands upon thousands of American and Iraqi lives, all in the service of a political lie.