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Be Careful What You Wish For May 20, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in CIA, Iraq War, National Politics, Politics, Torture.
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As a story that just will not die, the CIA-Nancy Pelosi torture memo debate fascinates me.  This latest Republican “look over here” tactic regarding the Bush Administration war crimes is breathtaking in its ballsy-ness.  What nobody is talking about is that the GOP seems to be saying, “OK, our guys tortured people.  But Nancy Pelosi – a DEMOCRAT – knew about it.”  It also amazes me that most of the media – who should be digging a little deeper here – are so in the tank for the Republican talking points (God, we need a Woodward and Bernstein!).

The latest to step into the fray is the ethically-challenged ex-Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.  Gingrich told ABC’s “Good Morning America” today that Pelosi should resign.  

“She really disqualified herself to be the speaker,” Gingrich said. “She has a unique responsibility for national security. … She made this allegation that smears everyone whose trying to defend her.”

Leaving her in her place would be “very dangerous for the country,” Gingrich added.

This faux indignation on the part of Republicans that somebody would actually accuse the CIA of lying is laughable.  Of course they lie – they’re spies.  Doesn’t anyone remember Iran-Contra, Iraq had WMDs, or that Iraq was seeking yellowcake from Niger?  The Republicans themselves initiated an investigation (that is ongoing) into the CIA lying to Congress over providing intelligence that got a civilian jet carrying an American woman and her child killed.  The CIA’s own Inspector General reported that the agency obstructed justice and repeatedly lied to Congress and the White House.  The leader of this investigation is GOP congressman Pete Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and one of the loudest voices calling for Pelosi’s head.

What’s more, facts in the briefing records are being repeatedly questioned.  Rep. Hoekstra has asked CIA Director Leon Panetta – who released the briefing records with the caveat that they may be incorrect or incomplete – to review the facts presented in the records.  Wisconsin Democrat David Obey has joined Senators Rockefeller and Graham in pointing out that while the briefing records say an Appropriations committee aide attended briefings, he was actually turned away because his clearance level was not high enough.  There is no record who gave seven of the briefings nor is there any indication when Senator John McCain was briefed except for “October 2005”.  The record also shows that Congressman Porter Goss was briefed on March 8, 2005 when he was no longer a Congressman but was, in fact, Director of the CIA.  In a final bit of obfuscation, the briefing record references the term “EIT” as far back as 2002 when it was not coined until 2006.

Jack Rice, former CIA agent and current radio host, told Keith Olbermann on “Countdown” last night that controversy will “drive the agency to react” and to say things that may or may not be true.  Isn’t that lying?

What is true is that whether Nancy Pelosi was briefed on waterboarding or not, the United States of America tortured individuals in our custody.  What is becoming clearer is that those individuals were not tortured because they presented a clear and present danger to the United States, but because the psychotic ex-Vice President was desperately looking for a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq.  What is true is that we need to know what was done in our names and by whom.  And if that also means Nancy Pelosi did something illegal, she should be prosecuted and tried with the rest of them.

 One has to wonder what the Republican’s goals are in the current controversy.  There have been several theories, from keeping terrorism in the public’s mind (and – ergo – their “better” ability to handle it) to the simple embarrassment of a major Democratic political figure.  Whatever the motivation, it seems to me that the Republicans better be careful about kicking these political rocks over.  After all, the slugs that would be exposed by such an action are probably mostly Republicans.

Be careful what you wish for, GOP!

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