Wallace silent as Gingrich falsely claims Dems did not try to ban waterboarding

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

Chris Wallace did not challenge Newt Gingrich's false assertion that Democrats did not try to ban waterboarding. In fact, the Democratic-controlled Congress passed a bill in 2008 to ban the use of waterboarding -- a bill vetoed by President Bush.

During the May 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) claimed that Democrats have "had control since January of 2007. They haven't passed a law making waterboarding illegal. They haven't gone into any of these things and changed law." Host Chris Wallace did not point out that, in fact, Congress did pass a bill in 2008 that, had it become law, would have banned the use of waterboarding. President Bush subsequently vetoed the measure.

In December 2007, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which limited interrogation tactics to those approved by the Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations. That manual explicitly prohibits "[w]aterboarding." The Democratic-controlled Senate subsequently approved the legislation in February 2008. A February 14, 2008, Washington Post article reported, "The Senate voted yesterday to ban waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics used by the CIA, matching a previous House vote and putting Congress on a collision course with the White House over a pivotal national security issue." On March 8, 2008, Bush vetoed the bill, and a House vote to override the veto on March 11, 2008, did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority.

During the Fox News Sunday discussion, Wallace also stated, "[House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi [D-CA] says even if she was briefed on [enhanced interrogation techniques], that there was nothing she could do, because these were classified briefings." Wallace subsequently asked Gingrich, "You, as House speaker, received these kinds of briefings back in the '90s. If you objected to a secret operation, was there something you could do?" Gingrich responded, "Sure. The first thing you do is call the president and tell him you will feel compelled to pass a law cutting off the money. I mean, there are lots of things you can do if you want to do it. The Congress is pretty powerful if it wants to be." However, Wallace did not ask Gingrich how Pelosi -- as the ranking member of the House intelligence committee and a senior minority member of the House appropriations committee in 2002, or as House minority leader from 2003 to 2006 -- could credibly have threatened "to pass a law cutting off the money" for the interrogations, or why Bush would have felt compelled to sign such a measure.

From the May 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: I want to ask you about one other aspect of this. Pelosi says even if she was briefed on this, that there was nothing she could do, because these were classified briefings. She and the Republican chairman of the committee got this information. There's nothing they could do.

You, as House speaker, received these kinds of briefings back in the '90s. If you objected to a secret operation, was there something you could do?

GINGRICH: Sure. The first thing you do is call the president and tell him you will feel compelled to pass a law cutting off the money. I mean, there are lots of things you can do if you want to do it. The Congress is pretty powerful if it wants to be.

And second, you know, they've had control since January of 2007. They haven't passed a law making waterboarding illegal. They haven't gone into any of these things and changed law. And, in fact, they've had several votes -- they, recently, you find that Attorney General Holder's own Justice Department is saying, well, you know, some of these memos are actually right; they're not wrong. So, I -- this is -- what we're seeing now in a very sad way is as bitter a partisan attack on the Bush people as we've seen since the McCarthy era. The degree that they're putting specific people at risk for criminal prosecution is unprecedented in modern America.

WALLACE: Meanwhile, the Obama administration says that it will close Guantánamo by next January and that some detainees who are judged not to be security risks will be released in this country.

Posted In
Government, The House of Representatives, The Senate
Network/Outlet
FOX Broadcasting Company
Person
Chris Wallace
Show/Publication
FOX News Sunday
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