Friday, May 15, 2009

Supporters’ Follow-up Make Things Worse For Pelosi

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday accused the CIA of lying and misleading Congressional leaders including herself, some observers suggested she’d made a grave error and would likely try to dampen the firestorm she’s created.

That didn’t happen. Late yesterday afternoon she had her House allies out talking to the press. Their goals: add credibility to Pelosi’s charges and expand on them.

I believe what Pelosi and her supporters did yesterday was done because they know CIA documents which will contradict what Pelosi and other leading Congressional Democrats have been saying about what they knew about enhanced interrogation and when they knew it will soon be made public.

So in an attempt to shield themselves from the criticism and anger of the public they’ve shamelessly misled, Pelosi and her allies decided on a preemptive strike to damage the CIA’s credibility before the documents become public.

But Pelosi’s attack doesn’t seem to have helped her, at least so far.

And how are her allies doing? Well, consider the following:

“Dems: CIA briefers may have broken law” is the headline of a Politico report today. A better head would’ve been: “Pelosi’s Supporters Make Things Worse For Her.”

Politico begins:

Democrats on the House intelligence committee said Thursday that CIA officers broke the law in 2002 if they told Nancy Pelosi then that they had not yet engaged in waterboarding.

"If they make a false report, absolutely it's illegal," said Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "If they fail to make a report when they're obligated to that is also illegal — a violation of the National Security Act."

Said CIA Spokesman George Little: “It is not the policy of the CIA to mislead the United States Congress.”
Rep. Schiff uses the conditional “if” as in “If they made a false report” and “If they fail to make a report when they’re obligated to …”

If Rep. Schiff has reason to believe the CIA broke the law, why isn’t he calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the matter? Why isn’t he saying Speaker Pelosi would look forward to testifying under oath regarding what the CIA told her about enhanced interrogation and when it told her?

I think Schiff’s attempt to cast suspicion and doubt on the CIA is best understood as playing partisan politics with some of the serious national security matters.

Politco ends its report:
The Democrats also defended Pelosi's decision not to raise objections to waterboarding in 2003, when she says she first learned of the practice secondhand from an aide who attended a briefing with Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee. Harman wrote a letter of protest — a letter with which Pelosi has said she "concurred," although she is not mentioned in it.

"She's away from Intel now, she's not focused on it, it's not her priority," Rep. C.A. Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said of Pelosi in 2003. "We have all these committees we go to, we get briefed on hundreds and hundreds of things. The specialist, though, was the chairman, or the ranking at the time, Jane Harman. And she did what she had to do, and we couldn't get a response back."

In fact, Harman did receive a response from CIA General Counsel Scott W. Muller; it just wasn’t the one she wanted.

In a February 2003 letter, Miller wrote: "As we informed both you and the leadership of the intelligence committees last September, a number of executive branch lawyers including lawyers from the Department of Justice participated in the determination that, in the appropriate circumstances, use of these techniques is fully consistent with U.S. law."
How did you like Politico’s sentence,
” In fact, Harman did receive a response from CIA General Counsel Scott W. Muller; it just wasn’t the one she wanted,”
following Rep. Ruppersberger’s claim that “we couldn’t get a response back?”

Politco makes sure readers know Ruppersbarger’s “no response” claim is false.

Message to Rep. Ruppersbarger: I think Politco’s telling you it doesn’t want to be flat out lied to.

Folks, Pelosi didn’t help herself yesterday and when her allies came behind her to try to “clean up the mess” they just made matters worse.

Pelosi needs to temporarily step down from the speakership and testify publicly under oath as to what the CIA told her and when.

Politico's entire story's here.