Nancy, It's Been Nice Knowing You

Why does Nancy Pelosi’s lie to the American people matter (other than to finally expose her as the political opportunist that we at RSP all know that she is)? It matters because at the moment in 2002 when the CIA made her aware of the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, her failure to object made her complicit in the practice. It is irrelevant as to whether she was told that the CIA had these practices in their quiver of arrows for future use (as the Speaker claims) or whether she had been told that the had already been used (as the CIA claims).

The enhanced interrogation techniques approved by the Bush Administration are not torture. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume that Nancy Pelosi’s contention that waterboarding is torture is correct. As Andrew McCarthy points out, a person who conspires to torture is subject to the same penalties as the torturer. Once Rep. Pelosi received her CIA briefing on the matter, her failure to object made her complicit with all future utilization of the EITs. As a matter of fact, if, as the Speaker claims, she was told that the techniques had not yet been used, but might be utilized in the future, that is a much better time to object than if she had been told that they had already been used. A forceful objection on the part of a high ranking member of the Intelligence Committee may have changed the CIA’s position. This has happened in the past so the Sen. Dick Durbin claim that the objections of members of Congress have no effect on Administration policies is not correct.

Unlike her nemesis, Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Ms. Pelosi never object to these techniques in writing and there is no record of any verbal objections. Pelosi also did not attempt to cut off funding for the program. As a matter of fact, according to recent comments by her then Intelligence Committee colleague, Porter Goss (R-FL), Pelosi and the other members of the House who were briefed, offered encouragement and asked if they could facilitate the program with new legislation. This certainly does not seem like the actions of someone who’s conscience was shocked by the revelation that an unlawfully enemy combatant was strapped to a wooden board and had water poured on his face (with a doctor and a psychologist waiting in the next room).

If you believe, as I do, that the briefing of selected members of Congress is a proxy for notifying the American people, the failure of the Speaker to act at the moment that she was informed of the existence of the EITs, was a vote in favor of their use. For he to claim moral indignation eight years after the fact is nothing but an attempt at political opportunism (an apparently failed attempt, at that).

In recent days, Speaker Pelosi has only made things worse for herself. She has become a political liability for the Obama Administration. This is evident by the fact that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs failed to throw her a “life line” during his daily press briefing on Friday.

At the Speaker’s much discussed Thursday press conference, she came off as dazed and confused. Her claim that the CIA lied to her and purposely and continuously mislead Congress is disputed by current CIA Director Leon Panetta (hardly an operative of the Bush Administration). The simple fact is that the Speaker of the House of Representatives must resign her position immediately. Her actions prove one of two things about her – either (1) her silence seven years ago was because she lacks the intelligence to understand the magnitude of what was being done to the terrorists in the name of American national security, or (2) she is lying now about what she knew and when she know it. (There is a third possibility as well, that both 1 and 2 are true, which is my bet.) In any case, Ms. Pelosi is unfit to be third in line to become President of the United States. The nation would be much better served if she were to return to the back bench.


Anonymous said...

Waterboarding is torture. The US has prosecuted people for it for decades, if not centuries.

Now go back five years to when Abu Ghraib was first exposed. Bush and his administration were calling it a disappointment, the result of a few bad apples. Given what we now know, that was not only a lie, it was a cover-up.

To me, the jury is out on Pelosi. It is certainly conceiveable that the CIA lied to her, and that it continues to lie about what it disclosed to her. It is also possible that she wanted to come public at the time, but felt constrained by the classified information requirements. (If that is true and she had come forward at the time, you would have been calling for her hide for disclosing classified info.)

But if she were to resign, anyway, maybe we could get a speaker who has been unequivocally against torture, maybe Kucinich or Sheila Jackson Lee.

The Daily Pander said...


Re: your last paragraph. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, could make me happier.

Steven L. Baerson said...

Funny how other Democratic members of Congress found a way to object to the EITs without exposing classified information - See Jane Harman and Jay Rockefeller. Also, as the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, Speaker Pelosi herself objected to other classified programs that were, in fact, changed because of her objects. That should make you wonder why she wouldn't do the same for something that she allegedly found so morally objectionable. Maybe it's politics???