Obama Knocks Cheney Suggestion; Pelosi Weighs In


One senior Senate Democratic leadership aide tells Fox that President Obama, in a closed door meeting with bipartisan Congressional leaders Thursday afternoon, said Vice President Cheney is only telling one side of the story when he calls for the release of more interrogation memos that Cheney says show benefits gained from the use of rough tactics on high-value detainees. This, according to the source, came after House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-OH, asked Obama to release more memos, per Cheney's suggestion. Obama, said the source, "suggested that the situation is not quite that cut and dry."

Aides to meeting attendees tell Fox that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, was at odds with the President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV. Pelosi told Obama that she wants a "truth commission" to investigate Bush-era interrogation policy, something a number of Congressional Democrats support, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, who first suggested the idea months ago.

Sources say the President and Reid were cool to such an investigation. Reid told reporters earlier Thursday that he wants the Senate Intelligence Committee to gather all the facts in its ongoing investigation and present its findings later this year, before any action is taken on a commission. Aides to Reid say the leader does not support a commission, fearing there would be no GOP buy-in, though Reid did not rule it out today.

Toward the end of today's White House meeting, sources say Pelosi again reiterated her position. Aides say she is not backing down. There is no greater illustration of the President's political problems with his liberal base.

One topic particularly rankled Republicans in the meeting. The Senate Democratic aide tells Fox that President Obama said "reconciliation," a controversial budgetary tactic Democrats are considering employing that prevents a Senate filibuster, may be used as "a last resort" on health care reform legislation.

GOP sources tell Fox, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, warned the President that it would cause serious problems and hamper bipartisan cooperation.

The group also discussed the upcoming release of bank stress tests. The Senate Democratic source had no details of what was said but added that none of the members "appeared to have any heart burn about what was discussed."

The group also talked about the President's budget and the upcoming $83.4 billion war supplemental spending bill.