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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Put Up or Shut Up

Republicans to Pelosi: Prove Your Case or Apologize to CIA

House Minority Leader John Boehner told FOX News that lying to Congress is a crime, so if Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks agency officials did so, she needs to present evidence and have the Justice Department prosecute it or apologize for casting aspersions.

It's week two and Republicans aren't about to let House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's accusation that the CIA lied to Congress slip between the cracks.

House Minority Leader John Boehner told FOX News on Monday that "the ball is in the speaker's court." If she is accusing the CIA of lying, she "needs to come forward, either present evidence or do an apology, and let's get this behind us."

"Lying to Congress is a crime. Purposely misleading Congress is a crime. And if the speaker is accusing the intelligence community of lying to her or purposefully misleading her, then she ought to present that evidence, turn it over to the Justice Department, have them prosecute it," Boehner said.

But Boehner did not call for Pelosi's ouster.

"Let's not get too far down the road here. I'm not going to take anything off the table, but I do believe that -- that the ball is in her court. And she has to either put up or have an apology and move on," he said.

Pelosi caused a stir last week when she accused the CIA of misleading Congress about its use of enhanced interrogation techniques on terror detainees, particularly on Abu Zubaydah.

"Yes I am saying the CIA was misleading the Congress, and at the same time the (Bush) administration was misleading the Congress on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, to which I said that this intelligence doesn't support the imminent threat," Pelosi said at her weekly news conference on Thursday.

"Every step of the way the administration was misleading the Congress and that is the issue and that's why we need a truth commission," she said.

On Friday, CIA Director Leon Panetta issued a letter to CIA staff repeating his statement of a day earlier that the agency's response to congressional inquiries shows that "our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing 'the enhanced techniques that had been employed.' Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened."

"I think that it's pretty clear that Mr. Panetta and the CIA believe that they were truthful in their briefings to Ms. Pelosi. There's been no reason to lie," Boehner said Monday.

According to a Rasmussen poll out on Monday, 43 percent of voters nationwide say they believe the CIA could have misled Pelosi about the use of waterboarding while 41 percent said that's unlikely. The belief and disbelief tracked closely with political party affiliation.

The poll of 1,000 likely voters taken over the weekend has a 3 percent margin of error. In it, 58 percent said they don't want any probes of how the Bush administration treated terrorism suspects.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said that Pelosi either needs to prove her case or apologize.

"If indeed Nancy Pelosi has lied, which it seems to me that she has, then she either needs to resign or at the very least have a public and open apology to the CIA," Franks said.

Franks then accused Democrats, including Pelosi, of constantly undermining the Bush administration for political points.

"They held themselves completely unconstrained to the truth in all of those debates and it was I think damaging to our country and damaging to our national security, and it seems like now that they are in the supermajority, they've completely disinvited the truth from the entire discussion," Franks said.

"We could be facing nuclear jihad in the coming years, and being able to rely on what people say is of more and more importance to the American people," he added.

Franks acknowledged that for now it's more advantageous to Republicans for Pelosi to stay in office.

"Politically it might be better for us if she stays in because I think she's lost credibility with the American people, and it's easier for us to point out some of the foibles of the Democrat leadership with her in the leadership," he said