Like a sudden lightning strike on a dark and dreary night, the Pelosi-CIA “you’re a liar!” flare-up in Washington, D.C., presents us with a stunning moment of truth.
We cannot not let this moment go by. Freeze it in your memory, because you’ll want to revisit this moment — and so will historians of the future. Nancy Pelosi was loudly applauded by the liberal media when she became speaker of the house. She is one of their own. She’s a true believer from the pinkest precincts of San Francisco.
Leon Panetta, now head of the CIA, is an old Democrat hack himself. But now they are openly accusing each other of lying about that touchstone of evil: the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other top terror suspects to stop another al-Qaeda attack like 9/11. Pelosi is up for reelection next year. If her San Francisco voters understand that she’s been lying to them for eight whole years about waterboarding, furious peasants with pitchforks will be marching up the Castro.
So she has to hold on to the pretense that she just didn’t know. “They always mislead us,” said Ms. Pelosi to the media about her very regular CIA briefings.
But we can be pretty sure that Nancy Pelosi was fully briefed on waterboarding from the start, in 2002 or 2003, just like other senior members of Congress (who hold the purse strings over career bureaucrats at CIA.) If the top bureaucrats weren’t good buddies with Democrats in Congress they wouldn’t even be in their jobs. Agency honchos and Democrats accommodate each other over decades of inbreeding as they move up the career ladder. When they get to the top, like Pelosi and Panetta, they don’t screw each other — not in the normal way of business in D.C.
That is why this is a history-making moment. If at any time in the last eight years Nancy Pelosi had telephoned the CIA about being lied to in a briefing, heads would roll and careers would be broken as soon as she hung up the phone. Nobody in the bureaucracy can afford to alienate Congress, because they know what the Frank Church Senate Committee did to destroy careers in the 1970s. It’s career suicide to lie to Congress and get caught at it. You can lie to the president, as the CIA did in its infamous intelligence estimate about Iran in 2008. But Congress is going to be there for your whole career.
Moreover, in the months after 9/11 the political class was in a panic to stop any more jihadi attacks on the American homeland. After all, American Air 93 was taken over by al0Qaeda maniacs to blow up the White House or the Capitol. That plot only failed when the passengers rebelled and ended up crashing the plane into the ground with all aboard.
Ms. Pelosi is therefore asking us to believe that in those panicky months her delicate sensibilities were on the side of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — and not on the side of all the career politicians of Washington, D.C. Like herself.
But if Pelosi admits lying to her own voters for eight long years, the unavoidable implication is that all the other Democrats also lied about the evil Bush administration, along with those wellsprings of truth and integrity like the New York Times and the Washington Post. So Nancy’s lie drags down the entire Leftist sucker narrative. Since all D.C. power centers are staffed with fire-breathing liberal “activists,” they constantly support each other’s agendas.
That is why it is so important for them to expose each other. It’s like Watergate, when the Nixon White House itself started to bleed copiously, ultimately reaching to the top. That is also why the House Democrats are now pulling together to support Nancy’s version of reality. Their own tender parts are on the line. Senator Arlen Specter, who desperately needs credibility on the Democrat side after stabbing the GOP in the back, has now jumped in on Pelosi’s side against the CIA. Will the Senate Intelligence Committee also shaft its friends in the bureaucracy? Will they dare?
We know that during the Bush administration the upper levels of the CIA and the Democrats deliberately set out to poison American public opinion against the president, working day after day for seven long years to destroy his credibility. They received enthusiastic support from Europe, from the corrupt Jacques Chirac in France and the sleazy Gerhardt Schroeder in Berlin. Islamists from Detroit to London and Pakistan supported endless media slanders against the United States. Saudi billionaires presumably bought the European media, just as Saddam bought European influence before the U.S. invasion of Iraq through the oil-for-food scam.
The Left around the world took after George W. Bush and after seven years succeeded in making its accusations stick with about half the American voters. So Obama got elected to the loud hosannas of the Left. No doubt Islamists were delighted to see the GOP defeated as well. Pelosi became speaker of the house on the strength of that campaign.
But what about The One, The O, The Savior of America? Obama can’t afford to alienate his radical Leftist base, for the same reason that Pelosi can’t. Obama is them. But we’ve seen what happens when the CIA goes rogue against an elected president: Valerie Plame is only one example of what that vengeful bureaucracy does.
Neither Panetta nor Obama can afford to alienate the CIA. Deep Throat of Watergate fame was Mark Felt, Hoover’s assistant director of the FBI. By a long series of leaks to the Washington Post Felt brought down President Nixon, working hand-in-hand with WaPo editor Ben Bradlee. J. Edgar Hoover himself used constant leaks against presidents, up to and including LBJ. Mark Felt was just following Hoover’s habit of destroying politicians by leaking. Obama can’t be happy about that possibility.
So the White House can’t infuriate the CIA any more than it already has by threatening to prosecute agents for waterboarding. The bureaucracy is up in arms, and it knows where all the bodies are buried. The Pelosi lie could torpedo the Obama White House through the death of a thousand leaks.
Barack Obama is caught in a classic bind. He can’t openly support Pelosi, and he can’t openly support Panetta. He’s been keeping very quiet about this smoking powder keg — but he won’t be able to stave it off much longer. Obama may be forced to pick sides.
Ordinary liberals don’t have an inkling how much we as a people have been lied to since 9/11. The militant Left has consistently twisted national security issues in the war on terror to its own political advantage by sabotaging Bush administration efforts against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Saddam. Nancy Pelosi’s accusation against the CIA is just one more ugly boil on the body politic — but it is symptomatic of much wider rot. That is the logical conclusion from the mutual finger-pointing we see today. Somebody has to be lying — or all of them are. The public may finally be getting that.
The liberal political class has to defend its story line at any cost. But today they can’t. Something has happened, and they are at each other’s throat.
It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.