One of the particularly nonsensical and yet dearly held ideas that the Bush administration promoted, and the media cheerfully accepted, is that no matter how lawless the policy sounded -- waterboarding, warrantless wiretapping, etc -- briefing the Democrats immunized all parties and magically transformed these policies into perfectly legal activities. Of course, I was raised to understand that bringing multiple parties into the commission of a crime was indicative of an expanding criminal conspiracy, not a legalizing trump card.
But all of this has been placed into stark relief now that Nancy Pelosi has become the face of those Democrats briefed on torture, and last night, Rachel Maddow and Greg Sargent did an excellent job decoding the political gamesmanship at the center of a drive to revive Pelosi as a fundraising, base-rallying target without crossing the line into genuinely supporting an actual Truth Commission. Along the way, Sargent highlights that even as Pete Hoekstra has been "pursuing the notes and memos that supposedly will prove that Pelosi was briefed on torture," he's actually added to the murk. "He said clearly on Fox that he had looked at those and they wouldn't provide a clear picture of what actually happened," Sargent said, pointing out that this actually dovetails with Pelosi's self-defense, former Senator Bob Graham's remarks, and the CIA's own admission that their own reports aren't based on anything verifiable.
Since then, Steele has "walked back support" for a Truth Commission, something Pelosi has yet to do. What is meant by "walked back support?" Just ask Steele's spokeswoman:
Steele's spokesperson gets in touch to say that this isn't a walk-back of Steele's position, merely a clarification of it. She says that Steele didn't mean to say on Meet the Press that many Republicans endorsed the idea of a "truth commission," but merely that they supported the idea of an "investigation" into what Pelosi and other Dems knew and when.
And here I thought I might need to actually decode the GOPs intentions, but there you go: they support an investigation into the issues of torture so long as it starts and ends with what Pelosi knew about it and when, and allows only a brief window for outrage before they all go back to describing torture as a totally okay thing that Americans should be allowed to do to people, the end.