Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

19th May
2009
written by Sean Noble

You have to hand it to the editorial board of the Arizona Republic. When they get it right, they NAIL it.  Today’s editorial on the fantasy of Pelosi’s memory is a tour-de-force of what we call “taking the bark off” – that is, peeling away the façade and exposing the harsh, raw, ugly truth that is Nancy Pelosi’s brain.

Look at the preposterous mess that was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press conference last week as a cold splash of water to the face.

To avoid so much as a hint of responsibility for her duties as a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Pelosi has humiliated herself.

The CIA lied to her, she said on Thursday. She was not told about waterboarding in her briefings. Nor, for that matter, was she told directly about CIA interrogators using any enhanced interrogation techniques.

She was never briefed, she says, but was “told” about them by a staff member. As if there is a lick of difference between those split hairs.

And she raised no objections to what she learned because she was too busy trying to gain a majority for her party in Congress.

No other member of Congress who was briefed on the CIA’s interrogation techniques over the years – and there were plenty of Pelosi’s fellow Democrats among them – has ever accused the CIA of distorting the record of its actions, much less outright lying. We are to believe they chose to lie to Pelosi alone.

***

Numerous leaders of both parties – including, reportedly, Pelosi – worried fretfully in those days that CIA interrogators may not have been doing enough to extract information.

They did not raise those concerns alone. Legal experts like Alan Dershowitz and writers like Newsweek magazine’s Jonathan Alter, among other politically liberal voices, urged harsh treatment to gain information. As Jacob Weisberg of the online Slate magazine noted this month, Alter even pushed for “transferring some suspects to our less squeamish allies.” Rendition, in other words, to countries where torture is not such an issue.

Now, Speaker Pelosi is compelled to pretend she maintained a moral purity about those days. She never felt the urge to trade an inch of the moral high ground to protect Americans.

There is another word for the moral purity Pelosi maintained during those difficult days. It is the same word that applies to her CIA tales.

Fantasy.

18th May
2009
written by Sean Noble

The buzz about Pelosi under fire continues.  As expected, Republican leadership had her in their sites for the weekend shows.

In a fascinating piece, former Hill leadership staffer John Feehery lays out how the whole episode has the makings of a coup against Pelosi.  He lists five components of a coup: a leadership rival, a disaffected base, a political liability to the majority-makers, micromanagement and press pile-on punctures credibility.  He adds great examples from Gingrich, Lott and what Pelosi faces today and then concludes:


With Pelosi, the press assumes she is both a hypocrite and a liar. Her various explanations of what she knew of waterboarding and when she knew it have been unconvincing at best. Her news conference was a complete disaster, and her credibility is in tatters.

Should Pelosi continue to mishandle this current crisis, and should she continue to make wild statements about the veracity of the CIA, don’t be surprised if somebody in the House says enough is enough. The conditions are ripe for a coup.

The one element that Feehery didn’t mention was that Pelosi does not have the backing of her President.  That’s not a good thing for her.  This will be interesting to  watch.

15th May
2009
written by Sean Noble

Today the controversy over what Nancy Pelosi knew and when she knew it took a dramatic turn.  CIA Director Leon Panetta issued a memo saying that the CIA doesn’t mislead Congress. 

Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.  

This memo is a big deal.  This is an arm of the executive branch taking a direct shot (in return) at the sitting Speaker of the U.S. House.  There is no way this memo was written or released without the direct knowledge of White House COS Rahm Emanual and maybe even the President himself.

That’s what we call high stakes politics, and I’m guessing the boys from Chicago are going to win this against the Madame from San Francisco.  By the time the Sunday shows come around, there will be discussions about how long she can stay as Speaker.

14th May
2009
written by Sean Noble

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to revise history.  In 2002 she was one of a very few member of Congress to be briefed by the CIA about various interrogation techniques.

Liberal Democrats are pressuring Obama to prosecute Bush Administration officials for employing such techniques, but that effort is severely undermined by Pelosi’s passive approval while she was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

So now Pelosi is making the absurd claim that the CIA “lied” to Congress. Really?  Not even Pelosi’s right hand guy, Democrat Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is standing by her on that one.

However, the number two House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer, distanced himself from Pelosi’s statements, saying he had no reason to believe that the CIA had mislead Congress.

“I don’t have a belief of that nature. … And I certainly hope that’s not the case. I don’t draw that conclusion,” Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said on the House floor after he was asked by a Republican whether he agreed with the speaker.

If you have any doubt about Pelosi trying to revise history, just watch this cringe-inducing clip from her press conference.

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5th January
2009
written by Sean Noble

The selection of Leon Panetta as the new CIA Director is so bad that even leading Democrats are criticizing the choice.  The LA Times is reporting  that incoming Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Diane Feinstein, was not informed of the decision and that she may oppose the appointment.   Outgoing Senate Intel Chairman, John D. Rockefeller is said to “have concerns” about the nomination.

I think this is a blunder by Obama.  Panetta is a former Congressman (he was Chairman of the Budget Committee) then served as Clinton’s budget director before being tapped as Clinton’s Chief of Staff.  None of his experience prepares him to lead one of the most important agencies of the federal government as we continue to battle terrorism across the globe.

My knowledge of intelligence issues is limited to Robert Ludlum  novels, but here is a quote from the article that struck a cord with me: “If you go in thinking your experience someplace else is going to transfer, it doesn’t,” said the former high-ranking CIA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

I understand that the CIA has been a disaster, but bringing in someone with no intelligence background is a mistake.  This is a political power-play by Obama Rahm Emmanuel.  Besides, how many Clinton alums are we going to have to tolerate?