Nancy Pelosi has made a veritable career out of Bush bashing. She owes her position as Speaker of the House to the Iraq War, having come to power after the 2006 mid-term election that was an anti-Iraq referendum. She has since played the role of Democratic gadfly, prancing from issue to issue to place blame on the opposition while taking credit wherever and whenever possible. She has also become the perfect shill for her far-left constituents in San Francisco and the bevy of left-wing interest groups that line her coffers with cash at every opportunity. From Code Pink to MoveOn.org, Pelosi is the voice of the left in Congress.
And so she finds herself in quite the pickle now that the interrogation memos have surfaced and the left has started calling for Republican heads to roll. Like many Democrats in Congress -- John Conyers, John Murtha and others, Pelosi has made blood sport of pointing fingers at the Bush administration for all manner of transgressions, including wholesale law breaking. She believes that Bush bashing continues to pay dividends, in creating a boogie-man for the media to focus on while she and her cohorts raid our treasury and impose their20vision of socialist marshal law on our nation. As Obama has shown, its a tremendously effective tactic. But it requires clean hands to pull off -- an ability to stand in a glass house and not have stones thrown at you.
And this seems to be where Pelosi is in trouble, for it now turns out that she knew far more than she let on about what was happening with the CIA and the interrogation of detainees. Today she gave what the New York Times has called a "tense" news conference on the issue, responding to the release of CIA notes and memos that claim she was briefed on waterboarding as early as 2002. Here is a partial transcript from questions she took at the news conference, courtesy of the Washington Times. It begins with a reference to a press conference she gave last month where she denied ever knowing about waterboarding:
In a press conference last last month, the speaker said she never knew about waterboarding. "Why did you tell us at the press conference —" one reporter said Thursday before being cut off by an agitated Mrs. Pelosi.
"Well, I told you what our briefing was. And our briefing was … We were told — in20the briefing that I received, we were told that they had legal opinions that this was legal. We were not told that it was. … And we were told specifically that waterboarding was not being used," she said. "Then we find out just slightly more subsequent to that that, perhaps, they were using waterboarding long before they tell us."
The reporter followed: "Now we know that, later, in February, you were told. It wasn't in that briefing, but you were told."
"By the time we were told," Mrs. Pelosi said, "we are finding out that it's been used before. … The point is that I wasn't briefed. I was told — informed that someone else had been briefed about it. … Subsequently, the other members of the committee were informed."
"So were you," the reporter said.
"No, I wasn't informed. I was informed that a briefing had taken place," the speaker said.
Another reporter asked if she should have done more once she knew — whenever that was.
"No, no, no, no, no," she said. "it does not make me complicit, no."
After the fourth question, Mrs. Pelosi's spokesman, Nadeam Alshami, called out, "Last question!"
So, the Speaker is playing word games ala Bill Clinton and the meaning of the word "is": She denied in an earlier press conference about being told about waterboarding in the official CIA briefing that she attended in September 2002. Her statement about that meeting was that she was told only that the technique had been approved but had not been "used yet". Now it turns out that her top security adviser attended another briefing in February, 2003 where he was clearly informed that waterboarding had been used on Al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah -- news that was clearly passed on to the Speaker. But in the press conference last month, the Speaker denied being told about it herse lf in the 2002 briefing -- which she must feel answered the exact question asked about what "she had been told in the September 2002 CIA briefing" -- even though she clearly has known about it since early 2003. She dodged the question on a pure technicality. Now that's transparency in government for you!
All this is to say that the Speaker knew about waterboarding this whole time and did nothing to stop it. She admits this now, saying that she "had better things to do -- like take back control of the government". Frankly, I think she was right on policy and principle not to try and stop it, because I believe that its use was fully justified. But, of course, Pelosi doesn't stand on principle here, because she is too busy playing political football with our national security. She scores political points by feigning ignorance of our enhanced interrogation because it allows her to blame Bush and appease her leftist base.
But the Speaker can't have it both ways; hypocrisy may be big business in Washington, but the American people know a rat when they see one. Pelosi apparently knew about "torture" in 2003 and did nothing to stop it -- and now claims that those who authorized it should be investigated and punished. What about those who knew about it and stayed silent and were in a position to do something about it?
Batten down the hatches on your glass house, Madame Speaker. The stones are coming!