Harman Letter Exposes Pelosi's Waterboarding Hypocrisy

The American people have good reason to question the leadership qualities of the sunshine patriots of the Democratic party – those whose views on national security are wholly dictated by the mood of the times. They clearly include people like Nancy Pelosi, who was repeatedly briefed on the methods for interrogating detainees, but never raised any concerns she may have had. She was content to keep her thoughts to herself, until the memories of 9/11 had largely faded away, and second-guessing come into vogue.

The Washington Times points out that Pelosi’s frequent nemesis Jane Harman raised questions and aired her concerns at a time when doing so might have been politically costly:

Rep. Jane Harman, facing a likely primary challenge from the left flank of the Democratic Party, was one of the only lawmakers in 2003 to challenge the CIA’s program of harsh interrogations, according to a little-noticed letter to the CIA that was declassified last year.

The California Democrat’s position contrasts with that of a longtime colleague and rival, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mrs. Pelosi has in the past two weeks said she was powerless to stop the interrogation program, which critics say included torture, and that she was never told that the program was actually being implemented…

A Feb. 10, 2003, letter she sent to the CIA said that the interrogation program “raises profound policy questions and I am concerned about whether these have been as rigorously examined as the legal questions. I would like to know what kind of policy review took place and what questions were examined.”

In the letter, she also urged the CIA not to destroy tapes of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an al Qaeda operative said to have been waterboarded, after an inquiry by the CIA’s inspector general…

The ranking Republican and former chairman of the House intelligence panel, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan confirmed this. He said Monday, “Harman at least raised some questions. And as far as I can tell, and as far as the comments from the current speaker goes, Nancy Pelosi did nothing because she felt powerless.”

Whether Ms. Harman was right or wrong in her concerns is up to each of us to decide. What is clear however, is that she was not the coward and opportunist that Speaker Pelosi is. Ms. Harman raised her concerns, and did so without undercutting the program or facing public criticism. If Harman was able to do this, what’s Pelosi’s explanation for why she did not do the same?

If Pelosi and the Democrats plan to pursue further investigation into handling of terrorist prisoners, they should be honest about their collective change of heart. When nearly all Americans believed that a second major attack was likely, they were all in favor of allowing rough men to stand on the walls and protect them. Now that they have convinced themselves the danger has gone away, they second-guess the methods they authorized before.