The real question is "What difference does it make?" And the answer is "none at all." The entire matter is a meaningless sideshow being raised as a distraction from the real story, which is the behavior of the Bush administration, the fact that it tortured prisoners.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, we got confirmation of something those of us who have followed these matters have long suspected--that Bush administration war-hawks were instituting their squalid torture regime in part to manufacture a case against Iraq. It was reported by former NBC News investigative producer Robert Windrem that, just after the Iraq invasion, when the fact that the administration had flat-out lied about WMDs was becoming painfully apparent, Dick Cheney's office suggested that captured Mukhabarat official Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi be put on a waterboard in order to get him to "confess" to an Iraq-al Qaida partnership. Two intelligence officers in the know confirmed this and Bush chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer confirmed he was asked to oversee this and rejected the idea as "reprehensible." Duelfer called it a political move and darkly notes that it was "ludicrous" to assume Dulaymi, given his position, would even have any knowledge of any such matters.
It's already a matter of public record that, in the lead-up to the Iraq war, Bush and his thugs were writing directly into their public pronouncements the nonsense being offered by those whom they were torturing. In the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, for example, Cheney ordered the prisoner tortured even after interrogators had reported that al-Libi was compliant and that such methods weren't necessary. When al-Libi started "confessing" to an Iraq-al Qaida partnership, the torture was discontinued and even though his interrogators were reporting that he was probably just making it all up in order to get the torture to stop, his words on the subject were , within months, coming right out of the mouth of the "President" and his top thugs as a rationale for an attack on Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted this, the CIA circulated an IC-wide disavowal of everything he'd said on the subject and al-Libi mysteriously died.
But the press has chosen to ignore this and give us, instead, saturation coverage of the Nancy Pelosi matter, something that is of absolutely no consequence, except to conservative Republicans trying to derail the torture story and protect the vile Bush administration.
The ever-vigilant Media Matters gives us the dismal particulars:
"Despite covering questions regarding what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) knew about the Bush administration's interrogation policies, none of the three major networks' evening news programs mentioned on May 14 that according to a May 13 report by former NBC News investigative producer Robert Windrem, '[t]wo U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney's office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner ... who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.' All May 14 CNN and Fox News Channel evening shows, as well as all daytime shows available on the Nexis database, also ignored Windrem's story."Just another example of our "liberal" press at work.
UPDATE (05/19/09) -- Yesterday, Media Matters followed up with print media, looking at coverage in five major national newspapers (the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today). Unsurprisingly, while all had extensively covered the Pelosi non-story, there wasn't a single mention of the Windrem scoop, much less a full-blown article about it, in any of those papers.
At the same time, MM also looked into how those same papers had covered a May 15 McClatchy article about Dick Cheney's claims that prisoners tortured at Guantanamo had provided evidence of an Iraq-al Qaida partnership. They didn't. And the big papers buried that one, too.