If the Democrats thought the Central Intelligence Agency was out to get them over the past few weeks, they ain’t seen nuttin’ yet after this little bit of insanity
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today accused intelligence officials of giving her “inaccurate and incomplete information” on the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics by the Bush administration, saying that CIA officials are guilty of “misleading the Congress of the United States.” [emphasis Teach's]
That should go over well with the folks in Langley and the CIA employees around the world, eh? Here’s a partial transcript, via Powerline (which also wonders how long Nancy P. will survive as speaker)
QUESTION: You say that Mr. Sheehy did tell you, your staff did tell you.
PELOSI: He informed me that the briefing had taken place. … When — when — when my staff person — I’m sorry, the page is out of order — five months later, my staff person told me that there had been a briefing — informing that there had been a briefing and that a letter had been sent. I was not briefed on what was in that briefing; I was just informed that the briefing had taken place.
So — so let’s get this straight. The Bush administration has conceived a policy, the CIA comes to the Congress, withholds information about the timing and the use of this subject. They — we later find out that it had been taking place before they even briefed us about the legal opinions and told us that they were not being used. …
QUESTION: Madam Speaker, just to be clear, you’re accusing the CIA of lying to you in September of 2002?
PELOSI: Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States, misleading the Congress of the United States. I am.
She repeats it several more times, and, like all the children in the Democrat Party, can’t take responsibility, and tries to deflect to Bush.
It gets much better. Teach supplies an update from Politico, this morning, that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is less than enthused in supporting Pelosi’s version of events…assuming he’s supporting that version at all. Which he isn’t.
Hoyer — a polished floor debater — was drawn into an extended exchange with Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on the issue this afternoon and said he didn’t have enough information on the briefings to draw a conclusion — and wasn’t inclined to doubt the CIA anyway.
Still, Hoyer said he regarded the entire matter as a distraction that the GOP was using to take attention off of their support of questionable interrogation procedures.
Rep. Cantor: “I share with the gentleman the notion we need to follow the law. But if there is somehow a belief, and I’d ask the gentleman whether he shares this belief, that somehow the CIA or others have intentionally misled this body, because that seems to be some concern that has been raised today? And I yield.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer: “I have no idea of that, don’t have a belief of that nature because I have no basis on which to base such a belief. And I certainly hope that’s not the case. I don’t draw that conclusion.” [emphasis Politico's]
Ah, but Ace had another update today about Nan’s stories. It seems someone’s gotten to her and told her the CIA makes a much better friend than enemy. So Nan wants a mulligan:
Apparently she mistook her CIA briefer, who introduced himself as such, for Vice President Dick Cheney. Which isn’t as impossible as it sounds; I see Dick Cheney’s face everywhere — in rainbows, in curve of a baby’s smile, on my girlfriend’s back as we tenderly fornicate.
UPDATE: Pelosi’s office has responded with a gentle statement supporting the work of the intelligence community, saying she was criticizing the Bush administration, not the bureaucrats at the CIA:
“We all share great respect for the dedicated men and women of the intelligence community who are deeply committed to the safety and security of the American people. 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. What is important now is to be united in our commitment to ensuring the security of our country; that, and how Congress exercises its oversight responsibilities, will continue to be my focus as we move forward.”
Seems to me a pretty clear attempt to walk back yesterday’s fresh new story that she had been lied to. She doesn’t want the documents coming out that prove her to be a liar, so she’s attempting a “Let’s just call it a draw” withdrawal of the claim.
And now, now that the CIA is calling her a liar and further damaging her dwindling authority, she decides she really meant it was the Bush Administration, and not the CIA at all.
As happy as Speaker Nan must be to see Friday get here — long regarded as the best day of the week to get embarrassing news out there, so the damage can be absorbed with the least harmful effect possible — the hits are keepin’ on comin’. James Taranto at Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web was positively amused before it was all over for the day…
Pelosi Reaps the Whirlwind
Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a press conference yesterday, and it was a memorable performance. We’ll leave the memorial duties to Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, the Beltway’s Sultan of Snark:
The speaker of the House had just read a statement accusing the CIA of lying and was trying to beat a hasty retreat from her news conference before reporters could point out contradictions between her current position and her previous statements.
“Thank you!” an aide called out to signal an end to the session. Pelosi walked, sideways, away from the lectern and, still sidling in a sort of crab walk, was halfway to the door when a yell from CNN’s Dana Bash, rising above the rest of the shouting, froze her in the aisle.
“Madam Speaker!” the correspondent called out. “I think there’s one other question that I would like to ask, if that’s okay.”
“Sure, okay,” Pelosi said, in a way that indicated it was not okay. Pelosi had no choice but to sidle back to the lectern.
Over the next few minutes of shouted questions–”They lied to you? Were you justified? When were you first told? Did you protest? Why didn’t you tell us?”–the speaker attempted the crab-walk retreat again, returned to the lectern again and then finally skittered out of the room.
Everyone knows by now what happened: Pelosi was encouraging the Angry Left as it demanded retribution against Bush administration officials for their efforts to protect America from terrorist attacks in the wake of 9/11. Now that she has been exposed as complicit in those efforts, she is reaping the whirlwind of hatred that she helped stir up. And she is going to war with the CIA–a war in which even someone with much more intelligence than Nancy Pelosi would be vastly outmatched.
This Reuters dispatch on the Pelosi performance gave us a big smile:
The troubles of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threatened to divert Democrats from President Barack Obama’s economic agenda when many Americans would like to put Bush-era controversies behind them.
In journalese, many, like some, is a first-person singular pronoun. As it happens, we agree with Reuters that many Americans would like to put Bush-era controversies behind them. But we thought so even before one of those controversies reached the verge of consuming a leading Democrat.
All in all, not a good week. It is the experience of a high profile official who is decidedly out of her depth. Lying, in the beltway, is nothing new. Lying when everyone with a working brain knows, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that you’re lying — likewise, that’s nothing new.
Pelosi’s lack of elegance is something of a surprise, and it would seem to be a nearly-fatal flaw. She possesses all of the slippery, filthy characteristics of a greasy old engine part dragged into a finely decorated dining room, unceremoniously dropped onto a priceless linen tablecloth. But she retains none of the lubricating qualities of such an artifact. There is a pretense of sincerity in her words, but it is all for nothing because there is nothing inviting about the prospect of believing in it, or of even pretending to believe in it.
She’s simply a bad liar. Only by becoming her willing accomplice, and advertising to all who pay attention that you’re becoming her willing accomplice, can you even go through the motions of buying off on even a tiny part of it.
This is not, I think, the lofty height to which the experienced beltway politician with her finely honed people-skills aspires — when she seeks to deceive. There’s simply no getting around it. We’re seeing an exceptionally bad execution here. A freshman in Congress should be well beyond this n00bie level of error.
Dayum, it’s a good thing we didn’t get that tundra dimbulb from the igloo-trailer in our nation’s capitol isn’t it? Ain’t it great having these sophisticated metropolitan types in charge of things?
Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes