Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pelosi Now Signals Support for Bush Probes

Nancy Pelosi has done a big 180 and is now ready to support John Conyers investigations and will be aided by Henry Waxman's recently released report about Bush administration secrecy: Rep. Henry A. Waxman has released a comprehensive examination of secrecy in the Bush Administration.
In a stunning reversal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has for the past two years has staunchly refused to back calls to impeach President George W. Bush, now says she will support congressional efforts to investigate the Bush administration over it's controversial practices, such as the politicization of the Department of Justice.
Pelosi who famously remarked in 2006 after Democrats won control of both Houses of Congress that “impeachment is off the table” indicated during an interview with Fox News she was willing to support legislation proposed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers to create a blue-ribbon panel of outside experts to probe the “broad range” of policies pursued by the Bush administration “under claims of unreviewable war powers,” including torture and warrantless wiretaps.
But told by Fox News’ Chris Wallace that President-elect Barack Obama signaled his unwillingness to support efforts to investigate the Bush administration, Pelosi countered, saying, “I think that we have to learn from the past, and we cannot let the politicizing of the — for example, the Justice Department, to go unreviewed. Past is prologue. We learn from it. And my views on the subject — I don't think that Mr. Obama and Mr. Conyers are that far apart.”
Pelosi’s comments seem to suggest that Conyers staffers may have already contacted Obama’s new administration to work jointly on the investigative efforts.
People working closely with Conyers on legislation to form a panel to investigate Bush’s policies confirmed Sunday that Conyers office has contacted Obama’s transition team and discussed their intent to investigate. But the aides said Obama’s team simply “listened” to what they had to say and did not verbalize whether they supported the move.
With regard to the politicization of the Justice Department, Pelosi made her strongest comments in support of continuing investigations to determine the role the White House played in the firing of nine federal prosecutors in December 2006.
"We have a contempt of Congress against members of the executive branch who withheld information from us on" the politicization of the Justice Department,” Pelosi said during her Fox News interview. She said one of the 111th Congress’s first actions earlier this month was to revive subpoenas that expired during the last Congress when the President Bush asserted executive privilege to block Karl Rove, his Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers from testifying before Congress about the U.S. Attorney firings.
Last week, the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a scathing report that found a former top official in the agency’s civil rights division lied to a Senate committee and broke federal laws by using a political litmus test to hire and fire employees--a violation of the very laws he was charged with upholding.
Pelosi said issues related to the politicization of the Justice Department will require Congress to “look at each item and see what is a violation of the law, and do we even have a right to ignore it, and other things that are — maybe time spent better looking to the future rather than to the past.”
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