WASHINGTON (AP) — Casting aside their president’s misgivings, Democrats are racing into hearings to criticize newly released Bush administration memos justifying harsh terrorism interrogations.
So far, however, the biggest embarrassment has engulfed a Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
As Pelosi keeps trying to clarify when she initially learned of the interrogation techniques, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee scheduled a hearing Wednesday that was billed as the “first public hearing on torture memos since their release.”
The Senate’s public hearing — and House hearings to come — demonstrate that even a Democratic president can’t stop his party’s lawmakers from delving into what they consider embarrassments of a Republican administration.
Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs has said the administration prefers an inquiry already under way by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which operates behind closed doors with classified information.
But Democrats can’t control everything. On Friday, Pelosi, D-Calif., was forced to issue yet another news release repeating her past assertions that she had been briefed in 2002 only on new interrogation techniques that had been deemed legal and were planned for future use.
Her latest statement came three weeks after the Justice Department released formerly classified legal memos that detailed the CIA’s harsh, once-secret interrogation program. Last week, CIA records were released showing that Pelosi was briefed in September 2002 on the harsh methods then being used.