Members of Congress who think they’d like to see former Bush administration officials prosecuted for authorizing the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on terror-war suspects might want to do some re-thinking.
The Washington Times reports between 2002 and 2006 the CIA briefed top Democrats and Republicans more than 30 times about the controversial methods. Those briefed included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., former chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Republicans included another former Intelligence Committee chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, currently the top GOP member on the House Intelligence Committee.
Hoekstra isn’t among those clamoring for a witch hunt, and he has sent a letter to the CIA asking for a full list of lawmakers who were briefed about the interrogation techniques — procedures President Barack Obama’s own director of National Intelligence says produced “high value information” about al-Qaida. Congress could have ended such interrogation tactics by withdrawing funding but didn’t.
Logically, if there’s going to be criminal liability for Bush Justice Department lawyers who wrote the interrogation memos, people in Congress who knew about the program that resulted from those memos likely would have some liability as well. We’ll have to see whether that point cools enthusiasm for an interrogation inquisition going forward.