Yesterday saw a remarkable display of bipartisan cooperation break out in Washington – but it wasn’t at the Blair House health-care summit.
The bipartisanship took place on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where Congressional Republicans and the Obama White House together killed a surprise amendment by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) that would have authorized the criminal prosecution of U.S. intelligence officials for a wide range of ill-defined interrogation techniques -- with sentences of 15 years or more.
The provision was quietly slipped into the House Intelligence Authorization bill as a “manager’s amendment” by Chairman Sylvester Reyes while all eyes were fixed on the health-care talks. There were no hearings or public debate on it -- and the CIA wasn’t given an opportunity to comment. White House officials were quick to wash their hands of it, though. And Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, rallied congressional Republicans to demand debate. McDermott wouldn’t even come to the floor to explain or defend his legislation. Then the entire intelligence bill was suddenly and mysteriously pulled, and Democrats called a late-night emergency meeting to discuss how to proceed.
If Congressional Republicans and the Obama White House can find common ground on the divisive issue of terrorist interrogation, then perhaps there is hope for bipartisan cooperation in Washington after all.
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