Obama, Pelosi Make Enemies at the CIA

Obama, Pelosi Make Enemies at the CIA

By Jack Kelly - May 12, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal) has been in the forefront of those Democrats who've been urging that the Justice Department lawyers who declared lawful the "enhanced interrogation techniques" the CIA employed on a handful of al Qaida bigwigs be prosecuted.

A report last week from the Director of National Intelligence to the Senate Intelligence Committee makes it plain Ms. Pelosi -- then the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee -- was fully briefed on those techniques, and made no objection to them.

On Sept. 4, 2002, Ms. Pelosi, Rep. Porter Goss (then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and later CIA Director) and two aides were briefed by the CIA. The briefing was entitled: "Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EITs that had been employed."

Disclosure of the report makes it plain to all but the willfully blind that Ms. Pelosi was lying at a news conference in April when she said: "We were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used."

Mr. Goss had intimated as much in an op-ed in the Washington Post April 25: "I am slack-jawed that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as ‘waterboarding' were never mentioned."

I noted in an earlier column the Bush presidency began to implode when some senior officials in the CIA began a covert campaign against him, and speculated that President Obama and Congressional Democrats risked making a formidable enemy by disclosing explicit details of the interrogation techniques, and waffling over whether the CIA officers who employed them might be subject to prosecution. It seems to me the CIA has drawn its first Democratic blood.

CIA Director Leon Panetta tried to give Ms. Pelosi cover by asserting in a cover letter that the CIA memo may not have been accurate, which is not a good way to improve morale at the agency he nominally heads. But Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, hinted in an interview with a Capitol Hill newspaper the CIA has more shoes to drop on Ms. Pelosi's head.

"He has seen documents that would clarify exactly what the Speaker was briefed on," Mr. Hoekstra's press secretary told a reporter after the interview.

It is shabby enough when politicians develop amnesia for partisan reasons, as when Sens. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton forgot why it was they had voted to authorize war with Iraq. But what Ms. Pelosi did was much worse. She was proposing to ruin the lives of lawyers who had acted in good faith by rendering opinions with which she recorded no objection to at the time. She wasn't just trying to criminalize a policy disagreement. She was trying to criminalize ex post facto a policy she'd agreed with.

Thanks to this disclosure about Ms. Pelosi, we probably will hear little more about prosecution of former Bush administration officials. As Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard asked: "How can Democrats in Congress possibly investigate the alleged abuses of the Bush administration when their own leader was complicit in approving the very techniques they would now call torture?" Now it's Republicans who want to have hearings.

Like Speaker Pelosi, President Obama is discovering that pandering to the moonbats isn't cost free. Congress has refused to fund closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay until the president makes clear what he intends to do with the terrorists incarcerated there. The prospect that some will be released into the civilian population has Democrats scurrying for cover.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama denounced the Bush administration's plans to try some of the terrorists by military commissions as "an enormous failure." But now that he's president, Mr. Obama has decided military commissions are a good idea after all. Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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