Controversy continues over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's allegation that the CIA misled Congress about interrogation methods used on suspected terrorists. Minority Republicans in the House of Representatives failed in their attempt to introduce a resolution calling for an investigation, as Democrats fired back accusing Republicans of trying to distract Americans from interrogation decisions made by the Bush administration.
As the House worked on final legislative business before a two week recess, Republican Representative Bob Bishop rose to read a privileged resolution.
Recalling Speaker Pelosi's assertion that the CIA misled her and members of Congress about whether the interrogation technique known as waterboarding was being used at the time of a key briefing in 2002, the resolution also noted the strong denial issued by CIA Director Leon Panetta:
"Whereas in order to safeguard the reputation of the House, it is imperative to reconcile as soon as possible the aforementioned contradictory statements by Speaker Pelosi and CIA Director [Leon] Panetta,” he said. “Now therefore be it resolved, that a select committee of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence shall be established to review and verify the accuracy of the Speaker's aforementioned statements," said Bishop.
Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer made a motion to kill the resolution, eliciting boos from Republicans in the House chamber, as presiding Congressman William Lacy Clay called a voice vote:
HOYER: I move that the motion be laid upon the table.
CLAY: The question is on the motion. All those in favor say aye. All those opposed say no. In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it.
As they try to keep the controversy over Pelosi's remarks alive, Republicans continue to assert that the Speaker knew about harsh interrogation techniques but did nothing to stop them.
Republican minority leader John Boehner asserted again that questions surrounding Pelosi's allegations need to be cleared up, suggesting the issue could harm the morale and confidence of those working in intelligence agencies:
"The Speaker has had a full week to produce evidence to back up her allegations, and I am frankly disappointed that she has not done so," he said.
Republicans also took part in briefings by the CIA, but like Pelosi said nothing publicly about what they learned in any classified session about the use of waterboarding.
Speaker Pelosi is to hold her regular weekly news conference on Friday. After the Republican investigation initiative failed, Democratic Majority Leader Hoyer accused Republicans of practicing a policy of distraction trying to divert American's attention from Bush administration decisions on interrogation:
"A distraction because a minority party does not want to look at what George Bush did. George Bush of course, President Bush, said we do not torture," he said.
In a speech Thursday, former Vice President Dick Cheney also referred to the controversy over Pelosi's remarks, suggesting that critics of harsh interrogation tactics are dishonoring those involved in the fight against terrorism.
"On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current Speaker of the House were briefed on the program and on the methods,” said Cheney. “Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists," he said.
The controversy over Pelosi's allegation about the CIA continued as President Obama addressed what he called the politicization of the issues of interrogation and plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
The president reiterated his opposition to establishing a commission to investigate a range of Bush administration actions, saying accountability can be delivered by existing democratic institutions.
In his remarks, Congressman Hoyer said he would personally support a congressional panel or commission to examine Bush administration rationalizations for approving harsh interrogation policies, adding that in the course of such a probe details would likely emerge about whether the CIA misled Congress.