Speaker Pelosi’s press conference yesterday had to rank as one of the most bizarre political implosions since Richard Nixon’s infamous “I’m not a crook” press conference in April 1974.
Pelosi called the press conference to offer her fifth separate explanation for why she never knew about the application of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” despite the release of CIA memos and the recollection of other participants who clearly recall her being extensively briefed.
As press conferences go, it was painful to witness. Noted one observer, if Pelosi was not lying, she deserved an Academy Award for appearing as though she were. When questioned by reporters, she actually re-read her prepared statement – several times – stumbling over it as if she were cold-reading the description of an event involving someone else.
The conference was, as noted, bizarre to the point of being surreal. If it weren’t the person who stood third in line for the Oval Office speaking, it would have been almost funny.
Indeed, it had all the elements of a “Saturday Night Live” skit, right down to the indescribably awkward moment when a reporter, clearly planted by Pelosi’s handlers, tried to change the subject by asking a softball question about health care. (The question was so obviously a plant that the other reporters actually booed him.)
Let’s back this up and look at where it all began. On Sept. 11, 2001, 19 hijackers murdered 3,000 innocent Americans, destroyed two 110-story buildings, four commercial aircraft, damaged the Pentagon and practically tanked the U.S. economy. They then promised that this was only the first wave of many similar attacks to come.
The Bush administration vowed to do whatever was necessary to protect Americans from further attack. Whatever necessary includes a practice known as “waterboarding.” Waterboarding is a practice that simulates drowning, terrifying its victim but causing no injury or permanent damage.
It is routinely employed against U.S. Special Forces as part of their training. The CIA says it briefed Nancy Pelosi of its use against Abu Zubayda back in August of 2002. Now, in 2009, waterboarding is officially torture, and Nancy Pelosi wants to go after members of the Bush administration for using it, even though it was legal at the time.
But, if Pelosi knew about it in 2002 and said nothing, then any investigation would ultimately result in her silence, making her complicit in the “crime.” The issue of what she knew and when she knew it became a very inconvenient line of questioning for her. So she lied and said nobody told her.
In the most recent reincarnation of the story, she argued that her job was really to take over Congress and get a Democratic president elected, and she was therefore much too busy to conduct public policy. And so that’s why nobody told her.
One wonders what can possibly be motivating the speaker, apart from what one could only term a pathological sense of vindictiveness. Raising the issue accomplishes nothing to benefit the Democrats. Like the speaker, they knew and did nothing.
Or they arranged not to know and therefore do nothing. Or, like Sen. Chuck Schumer, they signed off on it, telling the CIA to “do what it has to do” to keep America safe.
Bringing it up again at this juncture doesn’t do much harm to the Republicans now in office. They’ve already lost the White House, both Houses of Congress and are so hopelessly outnumbered as to be unable even to slow down the Democratic agenda.
But this kind of passion to utterly discredit the conservatives and Republicans is definitely going to harm America’s security. This is further casting the United States as the bad guys and the terrorists, who have sworn to destroy us, as victims of “American barbarity.” It provides propaganda support to our enemies and encourages future terrorists to join the jihad against the American barbarians. It puts at risk millions of Americans, especially our military personnel who may be captured by them. Our intelligence officers will also be far less effective since they will now have to be overly cautious so as not to be prosecuted by overzealous liberals that care more about the enemies’ rights than our intelligence community’s rights.
It also encourages those now engaged in battle against our forces to continue to press the fight, knowing if they are caught the worst thing that will happen to them is a nice, safe American prison, three hot halal meals per day, a compass pointing toward Mecca, and a prayer blanket and Quran hand-delivered by an American infidel wearing rubber gloves to ensure it remains clean and undefiled.
In a sense, Nancy Pelosi puts one in mind of the late, unlamented Yasser Arafat. Arafat was a cunning tactician, an instinctive warrior who lived not so much for the cause as he did for the battle. When the battle was essentially won with the Oslo Agreement, Arafat didn’t know what to do with himself. Without an enemy to attack, he was out of his element and soon reduced to irrelevancy.
Nancy Pelosi’s press conference was all about pressing the attack against an already-vanquished enemy, (George Bush, not al-Qaida) in opposition to the best interests of both her party and her country – even to the point of accusing the CIA (under both the Bush and Obama administrations) of lying about her so that she “would look bad.” It is a new low in ethics.
Shame is now officially dead in American politics. Nancy Pelosi’s shrill screams of protest finished it off.