“It would be generous to say we were stunned,” says a Republican House Judiciary Member, describing his response when Congressman and Obama Superdelegate William Delahunt (MA-10) yesterday asked the vice president’s chief of staff David Addington about water boarding of terrorists. Addington declined to comment, citing President Bush’s refusal to discuss techniques used to attain vital intelligence, and added that another reason not to respond was that Al Qaeda is probably watching.
Congressman Delahunt’s response: “I’m glad they finally have a chance to see you.” (Emphasis added.)
But the House Republican and Judiciary member was not so stunned to notice that no Republican rose to defend Addington, or to call out Delahunt for essentially inviting al Qaeda to impart physical harm to a senior member of the Bush Administration. “It was shameful that we didn’t do anything. I can’t explain it,” says the GOP member.
Just as shameful, according to a Democrat Judiciary staffer: Delahunt was congratulated for “zinging” Addington after the hearing. “Zinging was the term used. These guys are tired of the same old lines and excuses. I mean how many times can they pull out that old bogeyman of al Qaeda. The American people aren’t buying it anymore, and certainly Delahunt doesn’t.”
Delahunt claims he didn’t mean what he said. But enough other Democrats on Capitol Hill clearly understood what he had done. Sen. Charles Schumer, who bunks down with Delahunt when they are in Washington, D.C., made sure his schedule was such that he wouldn’t be in contact with Delahunt for several more days, according to a Senate leadership aide. “We don’t want any part of that guy right now. We expect he’s going to be in the middle of something pretty ugly, pretty quickly.”
Some political consultants who watched the Judiciary Committee hearing say that Republicans should be capitalizing on Delahunt’s and Democrats’ overplaying their Addington strategy. For example, Democrats during the hearing never once inquired whether any of the interrogation techniques used against terrorists had produced important intelligence for use against the enemy.
“You have to understand, guys like Delahunt, really all of the Democrats here, don’t care about winning the war against the terrorists, or keeping us safe. They might have cared after 9/11, but now they are ruled by the radical left. All they care about now is putting the Americans who put in place the policies that have kept us safe for seven years on trial. The terrorists just don’t matter to this crowd,” says a former Department of Justice lawyer. “And if the American people and Republicans understood this, the sooner we’d be seeing a different election.”