It is not only Bush administration officials in the hot seat on the question of torture. Top members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were briefed on the administration's policies and plans with respect to interrogations of terrorist suspects. Now Pelosi has accused the CIA and the Bush administration of "misleading the Congress," and says that during a briefing she received in September 2002, when she was the House minority leader, the CIA informed her that waterboarding was not being used. In fact, it was.
All of this begs the larger question of what responsibility Congress, as "the people's body," has for supervising the executive branch. As the White House, Justice Department, Pentagon, State Department and CIA establish and implement policies for extracting information from terrorist suspects, what useful roles can members of Congress play in oversight? After all, they are the recipients of top-secret briefings on the matters. Is Congress, given its awareness of the Bush administration's interrogation program, now too compromised to conduct a fair and thorough investigation of the roles played by Bush policymakers?