Pelosi Criticizes ‘Truth Commission,’ Says She Backs Criminal Probe into Bush Admin.

By Jason Leopold

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who last year adamantly refused to support impeachment proceedings against George W. Bush, said Wednesday she “absolutely”  supports a wide-ranging criminal investigation into the Bush administration’s controversial policies, several of which she supported.

In an interview with Rachel Maddow broadcast on MSNBC Wednesday, Pelosi said she thought a proposal by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy to convene a “truth commission” to probe the Bush administration’s torture and warrantless surveillance policies is “a good idea.” But Pelosi disagreed with the idea that witnesses who may have engaged in unlawful behavior would be given immunity in exchange for their testimony.

“Senator Leahy has a proposal, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is a good idea,” Pelosi told Maddow, according to a transcript of her comments obtained by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. “What I have some concern about though is it has immunity. And I think that some of the issues involved here, like the services part, politicizing of the Justice Department, and the rest, they have criminal ramifications, and I don’t think we should be giving them immunity.”

Pelosi signaled that she inclined to back an effort by Leahy’s counterpart in the House, Rep. John Conyers, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, and has called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to conduct a criminal investigation into Bush-era abuses, which include torture and domestic surveillance.

Conyers has also proposed the creation of a “blue-ribbon panel” to probe the Bush administration, but in a 487-page report he released in January he also said the Justice Department should appoint a special prosecutor at the same time to conduct a separate probe.

Pelosi also told Maddow that when she was on the intelligence committee during Bush’s first term she was briefed about the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” techniques but only in the “abstract” and she never believed the agency’s interrogators intended to use such methods.

Pelos denied that her prior knowledge of the interrogation policies has anything to do with her resistance to the creation of a “truth commission,” which would presumably probe Democrats who were aware of the Bush administration’s policies on torture and domestic surveillance but allegedly did not take steps to stop it.

Last June, Pelosi brokered a deal with other Democratic leaders that gave the Bush administration sweeping new domestic spying powers, including immunization of telecom companies that participated in possibly illegal surveillance of American Citizens. 

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