Larry Elder / May 28, 2009

Pelosi vs. CIA: Why It Matters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the CIA “misled” her about waterboarding.

What difference does it make, in the grand scheme of things, whether Pelosi is telling the truth? Maybe the CIA did; maybe the CIA did not. So what? Well, it makes a great deal of difference – and not only because if true, the CIA didn’t just “mislead” Pelosi but also committed a crime.

People like Pelosi, who once supported waterboarding – just like the folks who once supported the war – now attempt to rewrite history.

The country turned against former President George W. Bush and Republicans because of the war in Iraq. Yes, many Americans reversed their previous support of the war because of its unexpectedly high human and monetary costs. Yes, many turned against the war because, in its early stages, Iraq seemed on the verge of civil war. To many, the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein backfired – and made America less, not more, safe.

But what turned growing unease over the war into outright disdain for Bush? As to the case for war – the assumption that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction – many Americans feel flat-out lied to.

This brings us to waterboarding.

Like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, waterboarding serves as a metaphor for the former President’s alleged deceitfulness and villainy. Pelosi denounces waterboarding as torture, yet another outrage by the lying, scheming, manipulative Bush administration.

Pelosi, at first, said she knew absolutely nothing about the administration’s use of this “enhanced interrogation technique.” The CIA disputes this. But by her own admission, the agency told her that it was considering using waterboarding. Wasn’t that enough for the speaker to have thundered her disapproval? What about a letter of protest to the Bush White House? What about moving to cut off funds to prevent the agency from employing a technique that she purportedly finds so offensive?

The CIA pushed back. The agency said that it informed Pelosi, who received briefings, that it not only intended to use waterboarding but, in fact, had used waterboarding. Former CIA Director Porter Goss said that the CIA provided accurate information to Pelosi. Goss further said that the only objection during the briefing was the concern as to whether the CIA was going far enough.

Current CIA Director Leon Panetta agreed with Goss. In a memo to CIA employees, Panetta said, “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing ‘the enhanced techniques that had been employed.’” Panetta also wrote: “Our task is to tell it like it is – even if that’s not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it.”

Now, the retreat.

Before declaring in a news conference that she no longer wants to stress the matter, Pelosi praised the CIA. Pelosi said, “My criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe.” Does her respect extend to former CIA head George Tenet? Tenet served under former Presidents Clinton and Bush. As for believing Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, Tenet described the case as a “slam-dunk.” Does she now “respect” that he made that assertion in good faith?

So, what does all of this tell us?

It tells us that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, most Americans – including the Democratic leadership in Congress – wanted to prevent another attack. Despite their newfound “outrage” over torture, people like Speaker Nancy Pelosi understood, accepted and even encouraged harsh interrogation techniques to prevent another attack.

As to the case for war, all 16 intelligence agencies concluded – at the highest level of probability – that Saddam Hussein possessed those stockpiles. Yet people like Sen. Ted Kennedy said things like “week after week after week, we were told lie after lie after lie.” And many Americans – especially those predisposed to believe the worst of the Bush administration – completely bought it. “Bush lied, people died” became a refrain uttered endlessly by Bush haters.

But Bush didn’t lie – and the Democrats know it. Indeed, to extricate herself from Torture-gate, Pelosi now compliments the CIA, the very agency Bush relied on in making the case for war.

But public opinion turned against the war. Then waterboarding became “torture.” And Bush became not simply a commander in chief who, in good faith, relied on near unanimous but faulty intelligence. He became, as then-Minority Leader Harry Reid said, “a loser” and “a liar.”

Disgusting.

CREATORS SYNDICATE COPYRIGHT 2009 LAURENCE A. ELDER 

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.