In the rush to defend Nancy Pelosi after the Speaker lied about her knowledge of enhanced-interrogation techniques and got caught by a CIA leak in the falsehood, Dianne Feinstein offered a defense that certainly looks broad enough to cover the Bush administration as well. She insisted that Pelosi’s acceptance of waterboarding and other EITs should be considered in the context of the aftermath of 9/11 — which is, by the way, what Dick Cheney and other members of the Bush administration have said all along (via The Corner):
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, backed Pelosi.
“I think it’s a tempest in a teapot really to say: Well, Speaker Pelosi should have known all of this, she should have stopped this, she should have done this or done that,” she said.
“I don’t want to make an apology for anybody, but in 2002, it wasn’t 2006, 07, 08 or 09. It was right after 9/11, and there were in fact discussions about a second wave of attacks.”
Well … yeah. In fact, that’s why the CIA and the Bush administration felt that they had to get the information they needed in a hurry. Al-Qaeda had conducted major operations against American targets at least every two to three years since the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, and in 2002-3 the presumption was that another was on its way — and apparently it was. Cheney has strongly implied that waterboarding KSM stopped a major attack on Southern California, and DNI Dennis Blair and the CIA have corroborated that in general terms.
Under those circumstances, the CIA conducted the interrogations under the purview of Congress, and specifically Nancy Pelosi, Jane Harman, Jay Rockefeller, and other Democrats as well as their Republican counterparts. Not until much later did anyone register serious objections (Jane Harman), and Pelosi refused to add her name to Harman’s memo.
Pelosi lied to keep her left-wing support in place. Feinstein tried to defend Pelosi, but this may wind up damaging both of them among the MoveOn/International ANSWER wing of the Democratic Party. At least Feinstein did the damage telling the truth.