Which matters more to the Democratic Party: the preservation of civil liberty, human rights and constitutional government — or the preservation of Party leaders’ power? We are about to find out.
Information continues to dribble out regarding Nancy Pelosi’s early knowledge that the U.S. Government under George W. Bush was torturing the people it had indefinitely detained without charge. Over the weekend, after Nancy Pelosi issued excuses embarrassingly based on her ignorance of law, poor leadership or credulity, Republican members of Congress issued ominous references to documents they say will prove the Speaker of the House knew quite a lot about the waterboarding torture being used by the Bush administration and was even “involved in policy formulation.”
Republicans are being clear about their aim in revealing this information: to make it impossible for Congressional Democrats to hold investigative hearings on Bush’s torture without having Pelosi hauled onto the stand to give her own personally incriminating testimony. The GOP’s threat to Democrats: you shine a light on Bush torture policies, we’ll take down Nancy Pelosi.
We don’t expect anything more than blackmail from the Republicans, but we should expect more from the Democrats. If Democrats don’t move forward with an investigation now, they’ll show that they care more about protecting their own careers than about protecting human rights and constitutional protections. If Speaker Pelosi really cares about government torture, then she’ll order an investigation of Bush torture policies no matter what the investigation might uncover about her culpability. And if Pelosi’s personal interests stand in conflict with the pursuit of the truth, then the right thing for Pelosi to do is to resign. If Pelosi cannot shelve her personal interests to pursue that truth, then it is the ethical responsibility of to congressional Democrats to replace her.