Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Good Week For...

...Nancy Pelosi. No, really!

She's been awfully quiet over the last two months or so, laying low ever since the kerfuffle over her allegations that she was mislead by the CIA during intelligence briefings about the type of interrogation techniques that were being used on detainees. Many prominent Republicans, most notably House Minority leader John Bohener, have demanded she provide evidence for accusing the CIA of being less than above board(ing)...with some even calling for her resignation. Well, guess what, folks. I hope this won't come as a shock to you, but the CIA lies.

Earlier today, seven Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released to the press a letter they had privately sent to CIA Director Leon Panetta over two weeks ago. In the brief letter, to which Panetta failed to respond, the seven Democrats refer to a June briefing in which, allegedly, Panetta testified that "top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all Members of Congress, and misled Members for a number of years from 2001 to this week." Republicans, naturally, are dismissing this as somewhat of a political stunt designed to give Pelosi political cover. Considering that Pelosi had all but weathered that storm by keeping her mouth shut these past weeks, it sure seems odd for House Democrats to go this route in her defense...unless, of course, what they're saying is true and correct. Now, granted, this is not solid evidence that the CIA lied to Pelosi specifically. It's entirely possible for the CIA to mislead Members of Congress and still not have mislead Pelosi. The two may or may not be related. Even so, this sure as shit doesn't hurt her case.

Bohener's main issue at the time seemed to be Pelosi's audacity in making broad, unsubstantiated accusations against the CIA---a valid issue, if overly politicized in the way he approached it. But it's now clear the CIA has lied to Congress---unless you think these seven Democrats are also lying, for which I can see no reasonable justification for them to do so. We don't know what the CIA has lied about, and we don't know on what scale, but Pelosi's claims are, at least in the abstract, true. The CIA lies. One would think this should rightfully move the discussion away from the "what did she know and when did she know it" topic to the more relevant, "why the fuck is the CIA lying to Congress and how can we prevent it from happening in the future." But no. Bohener's money quote, "I do not believe the CIA lied to Congress. I don’t think this changes anything about the speaker’s actions."

Boehner, of course, was not at the June meeting in which House Democrats allege these admissions from Panetta happened. And yet, somehow, almost blindly, Bohener feels perfectly comfortable saying he doesn't believe the CIA lied. Not even an ounce of skepticism, it would seem. I agree with him that this is not a vindication of Pelosi's previous claims, but it's more telling that GOP leadership would rather ignore the substance of this letter from the House Democrats and continue to pursue Pelosi. If Pelosi has lied about what she knew, then fine. Off with her head. But it seems a wise course of action to me to investigate the allegations contained in this letter, not dismiss them with a wave of the hand as Bohener seems to have done here. Sure, there's more than a whiff of politics in the way the letter was released to the press, but just because something is cloaked in politics doesn't mean it's void of substance. How hard is it for GOP leadership to simply say, "The letter by the House Democrats, if accurate, raises some serious questions. We are duty bound to do our due diligence to get to the bottom of it." Ta-dah! So simple even a Republican can write it.

And on a lesser front, Pelosi also gets some props from me for putting an end to a ridiculous attempt by the House to pass a resolution honoring Michael Jackson. Without expressing much of my own opinion on this matter, I think it's pretty universally accepted that these resolutions are a pointless exercise in grandstanding. Given MJ's controversial personal life, can't we just let it go? Do we really need to involve the U.S. House of Representatives, too? Was the memorial at Staples Center not enough?


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