Pelosi, Democrats try to scapegoat CIA on interrogation
Under fire from Republicans for what she knew about harsh questioning of terror detainees, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday acknowledged that she had learned in 2003 that the C.I.A. had subjected suspects to waterboarding, but she asserted that the agency had misled Congress about its techniques.Pelosi's press conference was one of the more pathetic attempts to change the subject I have ever seen. She could not keep her story straight even using a script that she had trouble following. Her answers to reporters questions were logically inconsistent. Surely, she is not saying the CIA mislead her when it reported to one of her associates that it was using the harsh interrogation methods she said had earlier been described to her. Her statements are also inconsistent with those of other house members who attended the same briefings.
At a tense press conference, Ms. Pelosi said for the first time that a staff member alerted her in February 2003 that top lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee had been briefed on the use of tough interrogation methods on terror suspects.
But she said the fact that she did not speak out at the time due to secrecy rules did not make her complicit in any abuse of detainees. She accused the C.I.A. and Bush administration of lying to Congress about what was actually transpiring with the detainees.“I am saying that the C.I.A. was misleading the Congress and at the same time the administration was misleading the Congress on weapons of mass destruction,” Ms. Pelosi said.
She now has other Democrats suggesting that the CIA broke the law in its briefings for her and others in Congress, but how can that be, when Jane Harmon wrote them objecting to the waterboarding?
What I think is happening is that she is seeing an opportunity to hammer the Bush administration slip away because of her own knowledge and she is desperately scrambling to try to salvage the show trials that she and other Democrats so desperately want. She is not doing a very good job in that regard and by going to war with the CIA that she was praising back in 2002 when she was briefed she is making her job more difficult. I think her difficulties have only just begun.
Dan Balz at the Washington Post says:
...If her performance was calculated it was one of the more sloppy performances of calculation in my memory. The chances that she will come out on top in this conflict are remote and it will only happen if the Democrat majority rejects a search for the truth.
Pelosi's performance in the Capitol was either a calculated escalation of a long-running feud with the Bush administration or a reckless act by a politician whose word had been called into question. Perhaps it was both.