Saturday, May 16, 2009

To Paraphrase Howard Baker

What did Nancy Pelosi know and when did she know it?

A) Less than Bush and Cheney, who made contempt for the rule of law the centerpiece of their administration.

B) Long after Bush and Cheney went forward with their plans to make torture the new normal.

Yeah, I'm pissed at the cowards in Congress, too, and with the lack of backbone in the Democratic leadership. I'm pissed about both of those situations today and not just on the topic of torture.

The trouble is that the hoopla over Pelosi is doing the Republican's dirty work for them by implying that she has some responsibility for the policy of torture, rather than her true responsibility, which was reviewing, comprehending, and opposing such policy.

The crime lies first and foremost with the people responsible for authorizing the use of torture. Once they have been made to answer for their original crimes against humanity and the nation, then we can get around to the pissant Congress critters who may or may not have been informed fully and unequivocally about the use of torture.

And on the question of who knew what ands when, Alegre links to an NPR article on Sen. Bob Graham where he flatly rejects the CIA's claim to have informed Speaker Pelosi on waterboarding:

Graham says the CIA was initially reticent when he told the agency what he had found in his notes.

"They said, 'We will check and call back,'" Graham recalled. "When they finally did a few days later, they indicated that I was correct. Their information was in error. There was no briefing on the first three of four dates."

Graham says the agency offered no explanation regarding how it came up with the other dates.

The Sept. 27, 2002, briefing occurred about three weeks after the briefing in which the CIA says it told Pelosi about the use of waterboarding, a technique also described as simulated drowning. Graham, like Pelosi, says waterboarding was not mentioned during his briefing.

"There was no discussion of waterboarding, other excessive techniques or that they had applied these against any particular detainees," he says.

Pelosi has charged that she was misled by the CIA. Graham puts it another way.

"Nothing that I can recall being said surprised me or has subsequently proven to be incorrect," he says. "It was a matter of omission, not commission."

Graham says he is not surprised at the CIA's claims, noting that within a week of its Sept. 27 briefing, the agency presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee its National Intelligence Estimate of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which was later shown to be flawed.

"I'm not impressed with the credibility of the CIA as it was being led in 2002," Graham says. "I think it had become an agency that instead of following the admonition to speak truth to power, it was trying to speak what it thought power wanted to hear."

Pelosi's claim of being misled at the time may not be formally correct, but the CIA has now been caught in an outright lie about what meetings it held and what topics it covered.

The proper paraphrase of Howard Baker is:

What did the Bush/Cheney administration order done and what steps have they taken to cover up their crimes?


PS - Sarah on Corrente is also channeling Howard Baker - Defending Nancy Pelosi


Koshem Bos said...

The Pelosi story will disappear in a week or two; the torture era will continue to stain our history and standing.

Obama's unwillingness to understand and remove the shame enhances the pain. There is a world of difference between sleep deprivation, quite common, and waterboarding systematically and repeatedly. Not dealing with this reality is by itself a major moral stain.

It is almost expected the the DC media will pounce on Pelosi. She is a woman, she said that the CIA lies, which is an unspeakable media truth despite 8 years of repeated CIA lies in the service of a mad dog administration. We should by now shut the media out of civil society. After all, it isn't just pretending that the CIA is mother Teressa, it's electing Bush over Gore, it's beating Hillary as a like members of a gang and treating Bill as a criminal (he does look like so much better than Obama).

R. S. Martin said...

I will never get over how much the press can distort these things into such overblown proportions. From the way they're carrying on about this, you'd think that Pelosi was on-site to personally oversee these Inquisition tactics. It reminds me of how they treated the time when Hillary's eyes got just a bit watery in New Hampshire when talking about the way she was being treated in the campaign. (What? You mean, she didn't have a complete bawling breakdown on TV?) Or, more recently, one has their discussion during Hillary's SoS confirmation of the "conflicts of interest" posed by Bill Clinton's foundation--it was like the foundation was a suspected money-laundering operation for organized crime. Even the GOP couldn't bring themselves to play along with that one.

I think what's behind this current folderol is the attitude that if the torture scandal can be made bipartisan, it will go away. It's obvious that the media establishment is largely in favor of these atrocities, but they feel it is unseemly to discuss it in public. For them, I suppose it's like talking about one's bowel movements; this is just not the stuff of polite conversation.

I also wonder if this controversy may be a part of an effort to injure Pelosi's standing so she'll step down as Speaker. As much as I despise her, she's a roadblock to many things wanted by Obama's corporate backers, the media establishment, and the GOP--like tearing down Social Security, for instance. If Pelosi goes, Steny Hoyer will become Speaker, and he's far more to their liking.

Historiann said...

The discourse shaping up around Pelosi this week reminds me of the Democratic discourse on Sarah Palin. Although she was not the President nor the Vice President for the past 7-1/2 years, all of a sudden she was to blame for all of the ultimate evils of the Bush years.

I didn't like her either--but I could see that she was your garden-variety, dim bulb Western governor. But, it's so much easier and more convenient to cherchez la femme to blame for geopolitical evil and/or incompetence.