This is a rush transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," May 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, FOX HOST: This week, on "The Journal Editorial Report," Nancy Pelosi and enhanced interrogations. What did she know and when? We'll look at her latest attempt to clear the air.
Plus, Obama and the rule of law. Have corporate contracts and state sovereignty taken a back seat to union politics?
And Gates fires his top general in Afghanistan as the left begins to question the administration's strategy there. Is a revolt brewing?
"The Journal Editorial Report" begins right now.
Welcome, to "The Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
Well, after weeks of denials and changing stories over what she knew about so-called enhanced interrogation techniques and when she knew it, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attempted to set the record straight Thursday in a contentious press briefing that raised more questions than answers.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF: The CIA briefed me once on enhanced techniques in September 2002 in my capacity as ranking members of the Intelligence Committee. The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed. Five months later, in February 2003, members of my staff informed me that the Republican chairman and the Democratic ranking member of the Intelligence Committee had been briefed about the use of certain techniques which had been the subject of earlier legal opinions. I was not briefed on what was in that briefing. I was just informed that the briefing had taken place.
He said that the — that the committee chair and ranking member and appropriate staff had been briefed that these techniques were now being used. They — that's all I was informed of, they were being used and that a letter was sent.
No, I wasn't — I was informed that a briefing had taken place. Now, you have to look at what they briefed those members. I was not briefed that. I was only informed that they were briefed, but I did not get the briefing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal columnist and deputy editor, Dan Henninger; foreign affairs columnist, Bret Stephens, and Washington columnist, Kim Strassel.
Dan, this whole investigation, Democrats were saying, it's about the Bush administration, the enhanced techniques. How did the Speaker of the House get engulfed in this situation?
DAN HENNINGER, COLUMNIST & DEPUTY EDITOR: I think the answer is what goes around comes around. You're right. For at least five years, the Democrats and Nancy Pelosi has used this issue to scream torture, torture, torture, at the Bush administration, the purpose of which was to undermine the Bush presidency. Now it turns out that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats were present at the creation of this issue.
What was the creation? That was in early 2002, just months after September 11th, when the government was in a state of high anxiety, didn't know whether more attacks were coming and the CIA asked the Justice Department how far they could go to interrogate the suspects they had in hand. And Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats were themselves living in that environment.
And then — and then in retrospect, for them to attack the Bush administration for having tried to protect the country at that time was preposterous then and it was preposterous now.
GIGOT: It was inevitable that if we are going to have this big truth commission investigation of what the Bush administration did, you were going to have to have members of Congress who were briefed brought into this because they were brief at the time, under law. This is according to law that an executive branch, when it has the covert operations or secret operations, must, under law, brief the senior members of the Intelligence Committee.
BRET STEPHENS, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST: Well, but this gets to the second point that needs to be made here, that the Democratic attack on the Bush administration wasn't only torture, torture, torture, it was also lies, lies, lies, they didn't tell us this, they didn't inform us. Last week, the CIA released a dossier of the 40 meetings that — or briefings the CIA offered senior members of Congress, increasingly a larger and larger number of them.