In her head long rush to have former President Bush indicted for something, anything, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi has decided that deceiving the American public is acceptable. I suppose, in her mind, this is the classic “the end justifies the means”.
To demonstrate, I revert to my former life as both a federal prosecutor, and a civil trial lawyer. In every trial you have witnesses who tell the truth and those who don’t. Those who are telling the truth are unshakable on cross examination. They don’t need to refer to notes, so, you never hear, “sorry, the pages are out of order”. But, those who are lying, are a different breed. To them, “truth” is whatever is expedient at the moment to save their skin and accomplish their goals.
Last month when it was learned that, in September, 2002, Ms. Pelosi had been at a CIA briefing about “enhanced interrogation methods”,
Mrs. Pelosi insisted at a news conference that “We were not — I repeat — were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used.”
This past Thursday, in her press conference about that September, 2002 briefing, Ms. Pelosi said,
we were “told explicitly that waterboarding was not being used,”
Although, at first blush (as we lawyers say) those 2 statements seem consistent, they are not. The first statement leaves “wiggle” room, i.e., they may have been using waterboarding, but they didn’t tell us they were. In the second, there is no “wiggle” room, i.e., they told us they were not using it.
So, why the change? Last month’s statement leaves Ms. Pelosi open to questions, such as, did you ask if waterboarding was being used, and if you didn’t ask, why didn’t you. This week’s statement removes those questions from the equation. But, with that subtle change in “recollection”, came a question Ms. Pelosi never envisioned. At this week’s press conference a reporter asked,
Q. Just to be clear, you’re accusing the CIA of lying to you in September, 2002?
A. Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States.
What ensues from that answer should come as no surprise. On Friday, Leon Panetta, Director of the CIA, and an old friend of Ms. Pelosi, said,
It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. Our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of [terrorism suspect] Abu Zubaida, describing the ‘enhanced techniques that had been employed.
The truth is so simple, Madame Speaker. What you meant to say, and what you should have said (because it is the truth) is, “less than one year after the attacks of 9/11, we in Congress were all still very concerned that there would be future attacks, and, I would have done anything within my power to save this country and its citizens from those attacks”. But, the truth doesn’t comport with her agenda. Thus, the American public is getting her ever changing “recollection”.
Of course, on Friday, Ms. Pelosi backtracked somewhat from that stance by saying that her criticism was not directed at the CIA (one guess as to whom it was directed), but, the damage had already been done. The corner into which Ms. Pelosi has painted herself is now about the size of a postage stamp…no wiggle room, every cross examiner’s dream.
So, where does our President stand on this?
The White House saw no value in weighing in on Pelosi and the CIA yesterday. Spokesman Robert Gibbs declined to comment at his daily briefing, telling reporters, “I appreciate the invitation to get involved, but I’ll decline to RSVP.”
Is the President throwing Nancy under the bus, or did she throw herself under the bus? In either event, can I please do the cross examination of Ms. Pelosi…please!