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Pelosi Up a Tree

It has been the nightmare scenario ever since the modern system of congressional oversight of intelligence was created in the late 1970s: When a scandal erupts, a member of congress will put his (or her) political interests above those of the intelligence agency whose secrets he (or she) has sworn to protect.

That’s what’s so troubling about the campaign for self-vindication that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been waging. To escape from the charge that she was briefed about -- and implicitly condoned -- interrogation methods that she now calls torture, Pelosi is accusing the Central Intelligence Agency of lying. And not just the Bush-era CIA, mind you, but the Obama CIA as well.

If you read the CIA’s careful, ten-page summary of the 40 briefings it has given to Congress since 2002 on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” it’s pretty hard not to conclude that Pelosi is shading the truth to retrospectively cover her backside. “Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah…and a description of the particular EITs that had been used,” reads the entry for the Sept. 4, 2002 briefing for Pelosi and her House Republican counterpart, Porter Goss. Those EITs included waterboarding, whose use Pelosi has repeatedly claimed she wasn’t briefed on.

Congressional Democrats are acting as if there is something sinister in the CIA releasing the records of its briefings (see, for example, Politico’s May 12 post “Democrats: CIA is out to get us”). But the deal with congressional oversight is that if members of Congress are briefed on a subject and don’t object, they shouldn’t trash the agency later in public when there’s a flap. That undermines not just CIA morale, but the integrity of the oversight process itself.

Pelosi’s apparent rewriting of the record would be shocking -- if it weren’t so typical of congressional behavior on this subject.

Playing politics with the CIA is a way of life on Capitol Hill -- love ‘em when they’re up, trash ‘em when they’re down. Republicans and Democrats both play this game, from administration to administration. Though rarely has it been as naked as in Pelosi’s case. Having climbed up a very tall tree, she is now watching -- and yelping -- as the CIA saws off the limb.

CIA veterans remember how William Casey protected his flank when he was CIA director in the 1980s. To get congressional support for his plan to undermine the Nicaraguan economy by having the contras plant mines in Managua harbor, Casey invited leading members of congress to the super-secret Site 39 in North Carolina where the operation was being planned. There was even a photo of then-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan sitting atop one of the big mines that was to be used, “looking like the actor Slim Pickens riding a nuclear warhead in Dr. Strangelove,” remembers a former agency officer.

When the mining operation became public and Moynihan and others began expressing indignation -- and threatened to call CIA officers to testify -- Casey paid a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with the congressional leadership. The demand for CIA testimony disappeared, and agency officers involved in the program suspected that Casey had brought along some of the Site 39 photos in his briefcase.

What will President Obama do in this latest of the never-ending skein of CIA flaps? If Pelosi forces a political showdown, I have a feeling that Obama will side with his CIA director, Leon Panetta, and not the House speaker.

By reversing his position this week on the release of Defense Department photos documenting the abuse of detainees, Obama put his responsibilities as commander in chief first -- and his loyalty to fellow Democrats second. That’s the way it’s supposed to work, and, if Obama follows through, it will be one of the defining moments of his presidency.

Obama’s yardstick for evaluating these issues, says a top White House aide, is “what does it take to make the country safer.”

The White House official offers this national-security rationale for three Obama decisions about Bush-era policies: He decided to release the Office of Legal Counsel torture memos last month because the information had already leaked, and because he believed the memos release would undermine an al-Qaeda propaganda weapon; he decided against releasing the detainee photos because, in that case, he thought the pictures would hand al-Qaeda a new recruiting tool; and he will announce today that he is retaining the Bush administration’s plan for military commissions to try terrorist suspects because he believes that’s the most effective legal tool.

And if congressional Democrats complain about these policies? “The president doesn’t want to re-litigate the past,” says the White House adviser. And he seems to mean it.

By David Ignatius  | May 15, 2009; 12:17 PM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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Next: The Magnificent Irony of Dick Cheney


I voted against Obama but I have to hand it to him, he's making the right decisions for the right reasons. Pelosi, on the other hand, keeps digging her hole deeper and deeper.

Posted by: ZZim | May 15, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Ignatius:

If you're going to offer your professional comments, they should at least be comments based on the facts. Pelosi has not said she was not briefed on waterboarding. Whatever the truth of the matter, she has said she was briefed on the range of harsh interrogation techniques, waterboarding having been mentioned by her briefers as a technique that the CIA "had not used."

Posted by: howardhankins1 | May 15, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Torture is not a Rep v Dem issue the last I knew. It is a right v wrong issue. Want your daughter tortured? Your wife? Yourself? Our troops? Let us stay sensible and use our brains.

Posted by: eatinglowonthefoodchain | May 15, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

If Nancy Pelosi is investigated there will be a very long list of complicit republicans including W. Do they really want to go there after making such a big deal that there was no torture?

Posted by: blarsen1 | May 15, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Madam Pelosi,

It is time to step down.

This way please.

Posted by: dleon63 | May 15, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I did not vote for Obama, but seeing him stand up for the country's security (one of our family's main concerns) gives me heart. If he stands by the CIA, and has the courage to slap Pelosi down as she so richly deserves, then he'll be on the way to acting like the "governing from the middle" president he promised to be.

Posted by: gingersweet | May 15, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Are Karl Rove and Rush the editors here?
No mention of Senator Graham's account which 100% backs up Pelosi's contentions.
Senator Graham of obsessive and detailed diary keeping fame.
When the truth is finally out Pelosi will be vindicated and I hope you apolgize for this atrocious reporting.

Posted by: NYFM | May 15, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand what Pelosi had to do with the whole thing. Any representative can have any number of opinions, but she did not make CIA policy, was not in an oversight position, and couldn't do anything about waterboarding or any other interrogation "technique" being used. She was also briefed in secret, meaning that she could not talk about or repeat anything from the meeting to anyone, not her husband, her lawyer, her dog, or Mr. Goss, even. Nancy Pelosi was not the CIA director. She was (and is) the representative of a pretty liberal California district. If she's got a credibility problem, that's for her constituents to judge, not anyone else.

Okay, maybe she's brought more scrutiny upon herself by making statements that are so finely nuanced that she can't repeat them accurately, but that's all there is, here, folks, and it ain't much. This is just a witch hunt. The GOP has manufactured a scandal for her out of thin air. The odd thing is how many people believe that there is substance to this made-up controversy. Those would be the same people that hated Pelosi to begin with, and need new opportunities for name calling and castigation to soothe their bruised egos.

Posted by: ninjagin | May 15, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi should get what she deserves. But let's not forget the original CRIME. Whatever it is she has done is insignificant compared to the damage done by the Bush Administration. They used torture to generate false information to justify an illegal invasion that they had been planning for years. Thousands of soldiers and innocent civilians have died as a result of this crime. Prosecute them and then sweat the little stuff.

Posted by: CharlesS | May 15, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Diversion,Waterboard is the issue...GOP try to divert the attention...?

Posted by: blafouille | May 15, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Wow! It becomes clearer all of the time that politicians are inherently not worthy of our trust. I am not just speaking about Pelosi but about all of the politicians, especially the ones that are trying to make hay out this whole Pelosi controversy (herself included). I mean Newt Gingrich, please, there is absolutely no reason to trust anything about that guy. The other Republicans who are just flabbergasted that anyone at the CIA may have tried to mislead anyone. Give me a break! The whole situation just makes you want to get rid of the whole bunch of them. And they are the ones with power over our lives; the ones who make life and death decisions about people around the world. Evolution has a long way to go...

Posted by: Jimdandy2 | May 15, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, talk about 'diversionary tactics'...

The US engages in war crimes by using torture, and the focus is shifted instead to Nancy Pelosi?!?

How about indicting Bush, Cheney and the rest of the neo con rightards for their systematic evisceration of the US Constitution as well as the Geneva Convention?

To the rest of the world, the utter and complete failure of the US to come to terms with its crimes - not to mention the use of acronyms like 'EIT' to disguise torture - would be laughable, were it not so detestable.

Posted by: Impartialobserver | May 15, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

So when is anybody going to investigate Gingrich? That pill popping, pontificating, sanctimonious, pundit is such a hypocrite. Let us not forget our former Commander in Chief and his henchmen. Should they not also be investigated? I am so sick of the GOP. What's good for the goose should be good for the gander!!!

Posted by: guinea | May 15, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Are Karl Rove and Rush the editors here?
No mention of Senator Graham's account which 100% backs up Pelosi's contentions.
Senator Graham of obsessive and detailed diary keeping fame.
When the truth is finally out Pelosi will be vindicated and I hope you apolgize for this atrocious reporting.

Posted by: NYFM | May 15, 2009 2:12 PM
Are you completely out of your mind or just blind and brainwashed?

Posted by: jmk55 | May 15, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Dick is winning the fight, Nancy is a hypocrite and a pathological liar and all radical libs are having a fit. This is quite a soap opera

Posted by: jmk55 | May 15, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

"the intelligence agency whose secrets he (or she) has sworn to protect." Last I heard congress swore to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. In theory that would mean making sure an intelligence agency is following the law, although I recognize that in reality it doesn't mean squat.

Posted by: KennyBoy | May 15, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

As a Northern California independent voter who generally supports Rep. Pelosi, I am appalled by her lack of candor and her inability to handle what should be a minor issue. She is an embarrassment to the Congress. Despite the President's attempt to build a strong CIA, she is undermining his efforts by slandering the agency. She clearly can't be an effective Speaker and should definitely NOT be second in line for the Presidency. It is time for her to step down!

Posted by: IndependentVoter100 | May 15, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Leave her alone! (sobbing with mascara running)

Posted by: mediahack | May 15, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The CIA briefs Congress to cover their butts. Of course their summaries are going to say that they cleared it with Congress. This is a typical Republican Weapon of Mass Distraction. A secret meeting a congressman that no one can talk about somehow absolves the Bush Administration of lying to get in a war and torturing to try a get a connection between Iraq and Al q'da?? Not 'enhanced interrogation techniques', Torture!

How can the media fall for this? It's like Charlie Brown and Lucy. Pelosi knowing or not knowing some vague version of what happened does not make it OK.

Who authorized torture? Prosecute them! It's that simple.

Posted by: thebobbob | May 15, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

"Obama’s yardstick for evaluating these issues, says a top White House aide, is “what does it take to make the country safer.” "

Which is politician-speak for "what does it take for me to get re-elected."

Posted by: WashingtonDame | May 15, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

First of all, Pelosi is a liar and should step down. But for Ignatius to suggest that Obama flip-flopped on the release of those photos out of some sense of responsibility to the Presidency is absurd. Obama's motive on those interrogation photos is simply political.

Posted by: BubbaRight | May 15, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Leave her alone! (sobbing with mascara running)

Posted by: mediahack | May 15, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Here's the thing. Oversight means more than just sitting silently and listening to a presentation. It means asking questions and pushing back hard if there is something troubling and ambiguous. If Pelosi, or anyone, was really that concerned about "enhanced interrogations" or whatever, then it seems to me that she should have been a tad bit more proactive.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 15, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I consider my self to be a strong, rather liberal Democrat. I have been since I first registered to vote, being in the first 18 year olds that got to vote for President. However, I have had a problem with Pelosi since she was elected Speaker. She is a very wealthy person from San Fransisco. What could she even remotely know about the rest of the country's citizens. I have no problems with being from San Fran, or being wealthy, but the combo is a person who knows only what their little world is like. She does appear to be more concerned with herself than for the country - just like Nixon. She knows more than she will admit, but so do a lot of Republicans. but this is not about what the Republicans knew, it is about what Pelosi knew and is now denying it. I don't doubt what she has admitted to knowing, but it is the other stuff that she won't admit to that bothers me more. By the way, 'ol Newt mouthing about it is just another way for him to say "hey, remember me?". He is so afraid that people will forget about him. HE wants the 2012 GOP nomination.

Posted by: Tony16 | May 15, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

All the current and past members of the U.S. Congress, both houses, are just a bunch of liars and cheats looking to make themselves more rich and comfortable at our expense. The most disturbing part of all of this comes to mind when you consider all the people who knew what was and still is going on and they just stand there silent and let the soldiers be convicted and sent to prison. All of them are cowards. This is just another reason of many why term limits should be imposed and these freeloading, do-nothings be made to try to earn a living in the mess they have created.

Posted by: Vet68-75 | May 15, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"The United States doe not torture"
-George W. Bush

This was the big lie that needs to be investigated and it was told to the American people AND the world.

Posted by: blarsen1 | May 15, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I would say Pelosi is not up a tree she is out of her tree. This woman is an insult to the democratic party as well as every American who voted for them. She is the worst example of partisan politics protecting a member although in flies in the face of common intelligence

Posted by: musing | May 15, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

OK, if she knew, she should have spoken up to voice her opposition. Nevertheless, this is just a diversion technique to shift attention from those who were responsible for advocating and implementing this method of interrogation. What Pelosi knew and when she was briefed is somewhat irrelevant.

Posted by: PassingShot1 | May 15, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

This entire time, up until now, the right has claimed this WASN'T torture. Republican policy setter Rush Limbaugh, has claimed waterboarding is nothing more than a frat house stunt. Hannity said it isn't torture. Every right wing talker had said emphatically that this is NOT torture, it is "enhanced interrogation". So why now, all of a sudden, it's torture. If they want to admit what Bush/Cheney ordered is torture then all complicit members of the Bush administration need to be investigated. The republicans can't have it both ways. By trying to implicate Nancy Pelosi, they are setting the stage for much bigger things that won't bode well for their party. What about this don't they understand?

Posted by: blarsen1 | May 15, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi is a long-standing problem that needs to be eradicated at the very first opportunity....... However she is not the only incompetent politician that would place his/her personal interests and welfare ahead of our national defense interests, and by doing so endanger the lives of the many loyal men and women who serve in our natioal defense agencies. If one of these agency employees were to lie or foster untruths on any subject they would have thier security clearances removed and be fired. The same penalty should apply to our congressional delegations. Maybe that would stop some of the unnecessary political BS.

Posted by: buckeyeduffer | May 15, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Interesting. The more this man Ignatius posts, the less respect I have for him. I always viewed him as a too-invested neocon, but at least serious and honorable in his reporting and opinions -- not any more. And for good reason.

The only cause to listen and respect a pundit or reporter is their accuracy and honesty. Yet Ignatius is willfully ignorant of a number of key facts in this case and completely misstates what we know:

1) The CIA Briefings Memo are not reliable. Leon Pannetta makes that clear himself in his cover letter. He says thay are based on "recollections" taken long AFTER the meetings occurred. As if the briefers can keep that all straight after dozens of briefings.

2) Two senators disputed not just what was said at the briefings, but whether certain CIA noted briefings even took place. The CIA has the dates and even occurrence of briefings WRONG.

3) Jay Rockefeller and Bob Graham both say that the Waterboarding was NOT discussed at their briefings.

4) Pete Hoekstra, who is the only one as of yesterday who has gone in and actually looked at these notes the CIA is basing this memo on, has been very careful not to say that Pelosi received such information. Hoekstra!

The CIA mislead Congress and America? Release shaky memes to try to get Congressional opponents? I I am shocked, SHOCKED. They must have done it dozens and dozens and dozens of times in the last 8 years. The question really should be: why on earth would anyone believe the CIA?

Ignatius excludes everything relevant to defending Pelosi. And ignores the gaping holes now appearing in the CIA's story. This is just a hit job. And that makes Ignatius simply a hit man, not someone to trust to look at the story whole.

That is a shame. It is always a good thing to have an opponent who is thoughtful and rigorous, raising serious and honest points and provoking a good subtantive debate.

After his beneath contempt equating of the decent people seeking release of the abuse photos with a racist rapper, Sister Souljah, and now this slanted, fact-ignoring celebration of the CIA's increasingly shaky and backfiring anti-Pelosi strategy, we can file Ignatius under "dishonest beltway security flack" and move on.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 15, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Well, I see the issue is no longer Bush/Cheney torturing illegally anymore or whether to prosecute. Instead the media is more interested in whether a Democrat "knew" about this thing that the Republicans claim isn't even a problem. So which is it? Is it a big problem - in which case the previous admin needs to be investigated. Or is is not a problem at all - in which case who cares if Pelosi knew about this non issue? The media is again showing why they are irrelevant. I see no one presenting this issue rationally. You're ALL entertainers - not just Rush.

Posted by: bgormley1 | May 15, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

The fat lady is about to sing and her name is Nancy.

A bit ironic that it was her that aided the evisceration of the military and all intelligence agencies AFTER the first 9/11 attacks in 1993. The removal of agents throughout the Middle East is the cause sited by many as the precursor allowing 9/11 (not to mention Clinton's gutless non-response to the first attack.

Bend over Nancy and get ready to take a big one for team Obama.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | May 15, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Yardstick? "Uphold the Constitution."

Posted by: FoundingFathers1 | May 15, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

How dare anyone accuse the CIA of lying! On the otherhand ask yourself this. How good of a covert agency would the CIA be if they didn't lie? That's one of the required areas of expertise for any covert agency if they are to be effective. So, the rare occasion when the CIA would be truthful, would be rare indeed. Good work fellas (and gals).

Posted by: inewsmaster | May 15, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Wow...the RNC spin machine is in overdrive...suddenly it's OK to torture someone to elicit a false confession - but Pelosi has to step down because she was told of torture in a closed meeting the content of which she was not allowed to discuss outside. Sometimes, you cannot help but shake your head at the manure generated by the scoundrxxs and how this crop of journalists laps it up like divine milk. This kind of pseudo-journalism took us to Iraq war with false pretenses and this kind of journalism is stopping us from moving to a better place.

Posted by: jimsxn | May 15, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Be it good or be it bad, we are about to see what type of leadership is within the Democratic Party on the Hill. Basic questions that are being asked outside the beltway are: 1) How can we trust the current Speaker of the House with National Defense if issues that come before her are not politically palatable with her notions of the day? 2) How can we trust anyone when they will place their perceived political future above that of the Nation? 3) If the Speaker is willing to throw the CIA under the bus to save her own political skin, how in the world can we trust her to legislate programs that will effect/affect all citizens -- such as health care, education, climate care, and reducing earmarks and other waste?

I for one feel that the days of Pelosi are over -- and for the good of the Country and the Democratic Party -- she should be woman enough to step aside. It is very apparent that she lied, or was totally inept, or both!
The opposition party will have a hay day with the 'Party of Pelosi' with clips of her May 14 press conference played over and over. She will not be able to blame the Bush administration for the fumble bumming of May 14!!

Posted by: wheeljc | May 15, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi is incompetent and unfit for the position she holds. God only knows how she got to this point.
The job of the Speaker is way above her pay-grade. She is self-serving and corrupt, and must be eliminated.

Posted by: paha420 | May 15, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

CIA and Ignatius up a tree.

Relax folks, the exact opposite of Ignatius's comment is what is coming true. And I, for one, am delighted. Pelosi's refusing to quail and going foursquare for a full investigation put this ball right back into the CIA's court.

While Ignatius is having a high old time celebrating how the CIA under that criminal Bill Casey was able to blackmail and intimidate Congress from oversight of the illegal mining of harbors in a poor third world country, he gets nearly everything in this story wrong. And, thank goodness. Just recall his voluminous incompetent Iraq writings and you can get an idea of the depth of his insights.

Pelosi succeeded, however laboriously, in turning the spotlight back onto the torture issue, and onto the CIA, where gaping holes in their claims are now finally being reported.

The CIA Brieifing Memo has now been factually disputed by two Senators. And Leon Panetta can't vouch for it being accurate. And Pete Hoekstra can't find confirmation of the CIA claims in it. So there is no hard case against Pelosi. FINALLY that is coming out today. Darn, Ignatius just missed all that! LOL.

Funny thing is, what Ignatius seems to think is happening is not. The likelihood of a thorough and complete investigation of this whole sorry episode -- of which Ignatius was a part as a cheerleader -- has gone from zero to 95%.

Which is fantastic. I despaired of a thorough investigation or a truth commission, which needs Obama to get behind it. But now it is suddenly alive and well and headed out of the station. We are going to get that investigation, and the Bush administration and the CIA will have to answer for their shameful actions.

And poor Mr. Ignatius, who I thought of as an honest but heavily tarnished neocon, will have to face the disgrace he deserves for cheering and then dismissing this whole effort.

This was great news, and a good day for Pelosi and the anti-torture advocates. Sorry, Dave.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 15, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Sad to see Ignatius jumping on the bandwagon without regard to the facts of the matter.

Richard Cohen I would expect this from, Charles Krauthammer I would expect this from, not from Ignatius.

Pelosi's claims are corroborated. She's not my hero[ine] either but it's quite a stretch to say she's lying to cover her butt. She doesn't need to. The accusation that she's complicit is a distraction and she IS bright enough to know that.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 15, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi was and is absolutely superb! And is fully supported by Democrats and the rank and file. In fact her support is only growing as she girds to take on the torture masters and their creatures in the media and in the Torture Party, the GOP.

By refusing to knuckle under to these clearly false CIA briefing memos she showed her brio and guts. And we back her to the hilt.

The hilarious thing is how the GOP critics always get themselves caught in the the wringer on TV when they claim Pelosi was not telling the whole story, but then suddenly refuse to back an investigation when asked. Laughable hypocrisy.

They fear that it would go back to the real issue: Bush, Cheney and Republican creation, complicity, and commission of torture and detainee abuse throughout the military and the CIA.

When Pelosi and the coming investigations are through with you, you will be wondering what the name of that train was that went through your House of Cards. It was the Amtrak Pelosi Express: San Francisco to Washington. And no cow-catcher for GOP criminals, they just get mowed down.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 15, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Slightly off topic but, hey stupid, the contras never mined "Managua Harbor". How about some fact checking?

Posted by: cabrales1 | May 15, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

It's been common knowledge that congressional democrats were shamefully spineless throughout the two George W. Bush terms - astonishingly spineless after their victories in the 2006 mid-term elections.

Nancy Pelosi is the very face of that Democratic failure of principle and nerve, and it ain't purtah.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | May 15, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Despite the President's attempt to build a strong CIA, she is undermining his efforts by slandering the agency."

Posted by: IndependentVoter100

It's not slander if it's true. Let's see: Nicaragua, Iran, Iraq, Guatemala, Chile--among the many sovereign nations the CIA has undermined for the benefit of predatory American businesses. Torture and lies? Penny ante stuff to the CIA. They protect the same people who just picked the taxpayers' pockets, both their taxes in the Treasury and the 401(k) and IRA monies they stashed away for the future. Now they're just as in thrall as the indigenous South Americans whose lives were at the mercy of U.S.-backed dictators.

Posted by: edwcorey | May 15, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi, refusal to leak classified information = villified
Cheney outs CIA operative Valerie Plame = vindictified

Posted by: JRM2 | May 15, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"By reversing his position this week on the release of Defense Department photos documenting the abuse of detainees, Obama put his responsibilities as commander in chief first -- and his loyalty to fellow Democrats second."

And he put the rest of us (i.e., American citizens) a distant third. Frankly, I'm tired of being treated like a sack of moldy potatoes, as much as Ignatius et al think that this is the natural order of things.

Posted by: turkerm | May 15, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

It's Bush's dilema, not Pelosi's.

Republicans should not allowed to hold office until such time as they are able to take responsibility for their actions.

Posted by: lindalovejones | May 15, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Yup. Kissin' somethun' on the way up.... Chewin' out somethun' all the way down.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | May 15, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

The only congressperson in this whole sordid mess that has any credibility is Jane Harman. Although she may have other ethical issues (Israeli spies), she at least had the balls to express her misgivings about "enhanced interrogation techniques" (what a lovely phrase) within days of first being briefed on the subject.

Pelosi's just not worth defending. Democrats should stop providing political cover for her and throw her under the bus.

Posted by: dhilleub | May 15, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius is a shill for the CIA--always has been. Sen. Bob Graham also says the CIA lied to him in the torture briefings, and the CIA can't deny it. But Ignatius is still in there spinning for them.

The fact is Pelosi's cards are on the table. She's called for a Truth Commission--not the actions of someone who has something to hide. The RNC and shills like Ignatius are focusing on the sideshow of what she knew, trying to divert attention from the torture-as-official-policy horror show that's center stage.

Posted by: steveandshelley | May 15, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Torture is not a Rep v Dem issue the last I knew. It is a right v wrong issue. Want your daughter tortured? Your wife? Yourself? Our troops? Let us stay sensible and use our brains.
Irregardless of whether torture was used or not, which it was not, this kind of posturing is absolutely insane and does not hold any water in it. Do you like your daughter or your wife to be thrown in jail? Shot at? No? Then don't do it to the enemy and criminals, right? And we are talking about the enemy who torture and cuts off the heads of the hostages and puts it on TV!
This kind of "logic" - do you want this to be done to you? No? Then don't do it! - is for feeble minded. It is a perfect example of the Left moral relativism, inability to tell the Right from Wrong. Unpelsants things MUST be done to the enemy, and asking "would you want to undergo them" as any kind of litmus test is plain insane.

Again, irregardless of torture, which has not been used. US signed the anti-Torture convention and the whole paper trail of Legal Memos actually proves that Bush Adminsitration went out of their way to comply with the treaty. If they wanted, they could just torture the heck out of them in Pakistan or Jordan and get rid of the bodies. And nobbody would ever find out. But they chose the high road. The Sabbath Democrats started is for pure political reasons. As Article says, they play Politics with our National Security

Posted by: pihto999 | May 15, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Right on Steve. The great thing about this stupid fight the CIA and people like Ignatius and Ginrich icked is that is is rebounding into a strong psuh for a full investigation. And you can bet Ignatius will be howling all the way as the systematic torture and abuse that the Torture Party (the GOP) and their ennablers in the press have palmed off on "a few bad eggs" gets the final through airing it deserves.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 15, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Wow...the RNC spin machine is in overdrive...suddenly it's OK to torture someone to elicit a false confession - but Pelosi has to step down because she was told of torture in a closed meeting the content of which she was not allowed to discuss outside. Sometimes, you cannot help but shake your head at the manure generated by the scoundrxxs and how this crop of journalists laps it up like divine milk. This kind of pseudo-journalism took us to Iraq war with false pretenses and this kind of journalism is stopping us from moving to a better place.

Posted by: jimsxn | May 15, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree wholeheartedly with this comment... maybe if some of these so-called journalists would actually do their jobs and do some actual investigative journalism (instead of just throwing you-know-what out there and hoping something hits the fan) then maybe we can shed some sunlight on all of this.
Besides, remember it was the CIA that "knew" Iraq had WMD's (slam dunk, right?) Are you going to believe them now, especially since that 10 page memo you mentioned surprisingly appears at just the right time to cover their collective rear ends?

Posted by: PeterPamZ | May 15, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

any comment here that distracts with 'but what about W, et all' is yet another lib in crisis

burn the Botox Witch !!!!

Posted by: laughing_at_dems | May 15, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Wow... the whole idea of the CIA lying. Well, it's just unthinkable. I mean it could never ever ever happen now could it?

By the way, have we found those weapons of mass destruction yet?

I have more faith in Pelosi's ability to tell the truth than I do the people who gave us WMD as a "sure thing."

Posted by: dansimon123 | May 15, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I've actually liked Pelosi pretty well, mostly due to her important support of Obama's campaign. It's been astounding to see her lack of character in what's been a really embarrassing display--has she settled on a final version of her story?

I'm also really tired of hearing people comment about the damage to the CIA's morale--are they really so faint-hearted? If so, shouldn't we focus on recruiting people of sterner stuff?

Posted by: Seytom1 | May 15, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

What is it going to take for the radical imbeciles to believe that this woman is a power hungry pathological liar who will stop at nothing and spare no one?

Posted by: jmk55 | May 15, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Pelosi must think we are fools, of course she knew, and at the time the information was delivered, she probably smiled and nodded, and agreed with the whole thing. Nancy, you have gone as far as you are going to go on the political pony, so, take your lumps like the guys, or shut up, you sound ignorant, when you keep saying "I didn't know" or "Nobody told me" Quite frankly at this point in time I wouldn't vote for you as dog catcher.

Posted by: stoc2000 | May 15, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

shading the truth is a very nice and neat way to put it. however, flat out lying would be much more to the point. it is entirely inconcievable that she was not told the specifics about the torture program. cheney would never have failed to cover his tracks like that. on the hand, OBAMA continues to perform "magical" tricks by using the very best of sleight of hand to pass of this political "hot potato" to those who bought into and approved the program. i never have trusted PELOSI and it is doubtful i ever will. but that having been said, it is only too obvious that if she wishes to recover from this debacle she needs to make previous subpoenas issued stick like glue to those who need to testify before congress. how else can there ever be any level of faith re-established in our elected leaders? PELOSI can lead or be eaten alive by these disclosures. the forest is at hand, does she know the way to OZ?

Posted by: wa_idaho_lonewolf | May 15, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Democrat and I blame all of this on liberals. They wanted to open this Pandora's Box. Pundits warned that this would happen. I also personally warned liberals on HuffPo, Democratic Undergound, and Daily Kos. The response was nasty and vitriolic. Now the liberals are reaping what they have sown. I doubt they'll learn.

Posted by: Smooth_Jazz | May 15, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

The radical libs are throwing a fit because the torture issue that was supposed to hurt the Republicans and drive them out of business backfired, and it is beginning to hurt the Democrats more and more every day.
Now libs will be slowly turning against Obama, especially when his decisions will not go along with their warped ideology. There are already many posts on WaPu calling him a crook and a liar, because of his decisions not to publish the interrogation photos and to continue the military tribunals in Gitmo. Thank God!

Posted by: jmk55 | May 15, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, Pelosi has been caught in a lie. To appease the Democratic party's base in 2009, she called waterboarding torture. However, when she was informed about it in 2002, she didn't claim it was torture. After she was caught in the obvious contradiction, she has now decided to blame the CIA rather than admit that she may have been mistaken. In short, she lied and has continued to lie, and the Democrats in the House should ask her to resign for putting politics over the interests of the nation.

More importantly, however, for all those who seemingly have some burning desire to continue to attacking your own country by claiming that we "torture" because you want to claim waterboarding is torture, please put your emotions aside and use some reason. Is waterboarding harsh, certainly. However, everyone has to acknowledge that we're defending ourselves against some very nasty people. It must also be acknowledged that there is a substantial difference between what we did, which you want to call torture, and what our enemies have done, which is torture. We didn't cut off anyone's appendages, there were no rape rooms, no teeth drilled, no eye's were gouged out, no one was beheaded. Reasonable minds can disagree about how far we can and should go to extract information from the terrorists, but the issue of waterboarding was all reviewed and debated five years ago by the American people. Some were very troubled by it, and some recognized the necessity of harsh interrogation methods in an effort to keep America safe from the terrorists who want to kill us. At this point, is it really necessary to continue to attack your own country on an issue about which many Americans obviously disagree. Your continuing effort to create a non-existent moral equivalency only encourages and supports America's enemies, which makes all Americans less safe.

Posted by: MazerRackem | May 15, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Why is there never any meeting minutes from these briefings? Every meeting I go to at work has an Admin taking notes. Maybe it’s time the Government hires some stenographers to sit in on these briefings. It’s not very complicated and the transcripts can be kept as confidential as any other government document. It may be more cost effective than a long drawn out investigation.

Posted by: jallen5599 | May 15, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

So when is anybody going to investigate Gingrich? That pill popping, pontificating, sanctimonious, pundit is such a hypocrite. Let us not forget our former Commander in Chief and his henchmen. Should they not also be investigated? I am so sick of the GOP. What's good for the goose should be good for the gander!!!

Posted by: guinea | May 15, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Are you confusing Limbaugh and Gingrich?

Posted by: billy8 | May 15, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

I don't care what happens to Pelosi. I wouldn't mind if she steps down and a stronger Speaker who will have the guts to insist that torture be investigated.

Someone who will ask the President to have Rove arrested for defying a subpoena.

I believe the worst thing about Pelosi is that she has caved in so many times to Republicans' rants.

Posted by: rlritt | May 15, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

"burn the Botox Witch !!!!

Posted by: laughing_at_dems"
Spoken like a true Repub!

We'll give you Nancy and you give us George, Dick, Donald, Alberto, Condi etc., etc., etc...

This issue can will only hurt the Republicans, enjoy your descent to ZERO percent!

Posted by: JRM2 | May 15, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

sexist lynch mob attack on the first female speaker by the old boys club
Torture tapes have been lost and NO WMDs found but attack the female--thank you senator graham for not falling in the mob

Posted by: Noahark | May 15, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

sexist lynch mob attack on the first female speaker by the old boys club
Torture tapes have been lost and NO WMDs found but attack the female--thank you senator graham for not falling in the mob

Posted by: Noahark | May 15, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi ordered the CIA to torture. Bush/Cheney had nothing to do with it!

Posted by: pedjr336 | May 15, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I love Nancy Pelosi more and more, and her sticking it to the right and the Bush CIA were terrific. We are guaranteed an investiagtion now, and the Torture Party ( Republicans) will wonder why they ever made such ado about nothing.

Thank goodness. the whole idea of an investigation was dying until the right started howling. Their stupidity is always our best ally, not to mention their total immorality

Pelosi is fine, her base is rock solid and only the usual right wing fools think she is lying about what she was told. Three of her colleagues now back her up. The should do a group press conference to make it clear it is the Bush CIA who are dissembling and their so-called "recollections" hogwash.

You go Girl! We are behind you all the way.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 15, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight Ignatius. You're holding Pelosi responsible for the policies of torture perpetrated by the Bush administration?

Posted by: pedjr336 | May 15, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Hold it here. Maybe Nancy Pelosi is guilty of lying what she knew about torture but are we not jumping the gun here? Before we pillory Pelosi should we not throw Dick Cheney in prison? We KNOW he endorsed torture because he says he did and all the time. Meanwhile there is that guy in Texas just sitting there in his million dollar home and NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has been done to him.

This would be a comedy except there were thousands of people deliberately humiliated and injured. Stop thinking about Congress and think about them.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | May 15, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Poor Nancy, what will she do? She got caught in a big fat lie. A fellow Democrat, that just happened to be the Head of the CIA, called her out. Given her background and personal ethics, she should start hanging with Bill Clinton. Monica's old job is open.
With Hillary gone on the road, Bill could use the company. He looks like a lonely man.

Posted by: richard36 | May 15, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

It's possible that Pelosi didn't know that waterboarding was widely considered to be torture, when she was briefed. We have to at least give her the benefit of the doubt on that one. It's not like the Bush people were going to say, "and, oh by the way, that technique we just described- you know, waterboarding- most of the rest of the world considers it to be torture". I doubt very seriously they said such a thing when they described it to her or her staff member. But as for the fact she was told about it, I believe the CIA on that one.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | May 15, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

obama gets so much credit. a la chris rock, you're SUPPOSED to feed your kids. What do you want, a cookie? obama isn't brave, courageous, or above politics by taking the "right" side on issues like this. Pelosi is a sinking ship and the rats are running. if i may borrow from pop culture once more, his "accomplishments" at this point are like goals in quiditch. no one gives a sht unless you get the dam snitch. in this case, it's long term economic health and iran. until then.

Posted by: batigol85 | May 15, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Let's first deal with those who authorized the use of torture, then we can get to those who knew but were not directly connected to it, like Peolsi. Not to excuse her deceit, but at the time, Pelosi would have been shouting at the rain. No amount of vehemence would have dissuaded or stopped the Rumsfeld / Cheney cabal.

Posted by: fnorgzeppi | May 15, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

So, the minority member of the intelligence committee who was prevented from speaking, or taking notes, on the briefings is now supposed to have been the woman who should have saved the nation from the shame of torture that the Republicans are claiming was legal all along????
This is nothing but a witch hunt and an orchestrated diversion of responsibility designed to save the Republicans from their own actions.
And, I must say, it is, once more, disappointing to see the press hop on the Orwellian band wagon of singling out one person who was sworn to secrecy and roast her alive for stumbling around trying to explain things when she is STILL not supposed to be revealing things.
Next thing you know, she will be arrested for revealing state secrets and rendered to a secret location.
This is disgusting.

Posted by: cms1 | May 15, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi whipped has tried to whip up a partisan political witch hunt and been caught in the firestorm she helped created. She has accused the heroes that kept of safe after 9/11 of torture and the near treason of lying to Congress in what amounted to a time of war. She has bald faced lied to the American people. She shouldn't be allowed to resign. She should be expelled from the House in disgrace and sent packing back to CA.

Posted by: valwayne | May 15, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

David Ignatius is an outstanding journalist. His sources in the middle east, most notably Lebanon and Syria, are second to none.

I don't always agree with his left-of-center opinions, but the man has an excellent track record on his reporting overall, and deserves to be taken seriously. The personal attacks in the comments above on his journalism are obviously unacceptable.

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage Mr. Ignatius to appear as a contributor on FOX News, particularly Brett Baier's show, not because he is a conservative, but because the man knows of what he speaks. He would be a very good intellectual counter-point to Charles Krauthammer.

David, you need step beyond print journalism my friend. Newspapers, like the Washington Post, are dying. Your opinion and insight need to be shared with those of us who do not always agree with you, and the viewing public will be more enlightened for it.

Posted by: Die-HardPub | May 15, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

whatever the truth may be here, at the end of the day it matters not. She was ADVISED of the policy, she didn't DESIGN it. The Republicans controlled the House at the time, and legally she had no power to stop it. Even commenting on it was forbidden by the rules that govern classified briefings. This is all Republican misdirection--THEIR president and his Rasputin thought torture a good idea. THEY encouraged its use and used politically appointed lawyers to pretzel twist the Constitution into allowing it. The real bottom line is that they ALL need to be prosecuted for leading us down this criminally immoral black hole. And if Democrats share complicity, the hell with them too. This is NOT a gray are. It is wrong, it is criminal and it has NEVER made us safer--it's just mad us sad hypocrites in the eyes of a cynical world.

Posted by: bklyndan22 | May 15, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

"Pelosi’s apparent rewriting of the record would be shocking -- if it weren’t so typical of congressional behavior on this subject."

It has been reported that Bela Abzug did deny many things she was told in Vietnam.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | May 15, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

"legally she had no power to stop it."

If it were a serious crime she should have opposed it. They do have closed sessions, you know. If it were not a serious crime (in her opinion, of course) she did right and should defend her actions now.

President Obama is right. It is time to move on.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | May 15, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Leon Panetta himself said that the accuracy of the briefings document released by the CIA could not be vouched for.

So why is Ignatius quoting from it as if it were fact?

Posted by: unojklhh1 | May 15, 2009 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone imagine the old Democrat lions like Sam Rayburn, LBJ, Daniel Patrick Monyihan, or Tip O'Neil being as clueless and befuddled as Pelosi? They knew everything that occurred in the House of Representatives on a daily basis. She should step down. Her competence is in serious question.

Posted by: Sigma2010 | May 15, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

I am flabbergasted at the short memories posting here. This whole escapade started with Queen "Let them eat Cake " Pelosi and Stenny Hoyer calling for a witch hunt. Oops, I meant Truth Commission. The Pineapple Princess seriously underestimated her colleagues and her ability to be bullet proof.
Gotta hand it to Cheney... He saw how effective Alinsky's rules for radicals were and used them adroitly like he wrote a collegiate essay on the subject or was some community organizer in Chicago!
I am enjoying this immensely and lets hope it causes a huge distraction to keep the next big power grab off the table- nationalized health care.

Posted by: PaLibertyBelle | May 15, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

No one - including the author of this article, the commenters, and congress, knows who is lying in this case. So leave Pelosi alone. Second - who is so naive as to believe that the CIA has never lied to congress, the president, and the nation (remember "WMD is a slam dunk" from Tenet?). Let's get an independent prosecutor - or committee - or panel - whatever, to look into this whole mess and get it all behind us. But not before the perpetrators, the planners, and the master-minds get outed and the world knows that only a few bad apples are responsible.

Posted by: jbleenyc | May 15, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Despite her bizarre demeanor during the 5/14 press "event," the real question is why does the person who is 3rd in line to the Presidency choose to attack the CIA in time of war? This seems neither presidential nor smart and, as the posts here reflect, seems, de facto, to distract from more important issues and has the potential to place some of the President's declared priorities at risk. A good defensive move on her part would be, at the least, to take a leave of absence for family or personal reasons.

Posted by: noname11 | May 15, 2009 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi has become a diversion, a laughing-stock and a liability. She has lost all credibility and is no longer trustworthy.

It is important that Pelosi step down immediately. And only then will we be able to get back to the real matters at hand.

Posted by: JackESpratt | May 15, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

This is just sickening. What a farce this neocon editorial page has turned into. We've just been through EIGHT YEARS of being lied to up one side and down the other, and the Washington Post never once could bring itself to mouth the L word in relation to Bush and his band of prevaricators.

Now, Pelosi dissembles on when she knew about waterboarding - a subject she couldn't so a thing about in any case, not being the powerholder - and the Post is ALL ABOUT VERACITY IN OUR PUBLIC SERVANTS. Just sickening. What a farce of a newspaper this is.

It couldn't be more obvious that the Post has been just *waiting* for someone from the left on whom they could pin all of the Bush garbage. Hang it up guys, this city is sick of you.

Posted by: B2O2 | May 15, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

We cannot "re-litigate" this particular past, because it has never been litigated, bonehead.

Posted by: mikehike | May 16, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I do not think that Nancy Pelosi travelled down the sensible road by becoming so abundantly accusatory of the CIA in a post 911 mind set whereas we have been kept safe via their noble assistance. Nevertheless, I believe this entire matter to be nothing more than the Cruise To Nowhere where the Staten Island Ferry spends a few hours circling Manhattan. Ms. Pelosi is a very powerful politician with her own party in dominant and forceful control. Powerful individuals in Congress with money and high profile monied support are almost impossible to move off a dime. I would suggest some sort of capitulation or acknowledgement directed to our intelligence officers. This in lieu of the apology or censure we probably will never get.

Posted by: freelanceman4 | May 16, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Folks, don't even try to pretend the CIA is some selfless, saintly gathering of straight shooting protectors. They slanted and lied on Iraq circa 2003(despite a few brave souls within who dissented) okayed and created torture in secret detention sites around the world, and were excoriated for their failures in Iraq. Their iran intelligence has been dismissed. They are knife fighters.

Their Briefing memo on waterboarding is a sketchy joke that is falling apart on the testimony of Bob Graham, Jay Rockefeller and Sylvestre Reyes. Even Panetta won't say the recollections are accurate.

And Pelosi is a monor side issue to the main story: crime and law breaking in the CIA and the White House. Fully supported by the torture Party, the GOP.

All this much ado about nothing is going to accomplish is to guarantee a top to bottom investigation of the entire torture issue. And that will leave the CIA and the Right Wing in tatters.

Thank you Nancy for saying full steam ahead. The GOP just supplied a train car full of coal. They will regret it.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 16, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Ignatius has a knack for criticizing the wrong person on any issue. The CIA will always distort, withold, twist whatever subject they are briefing. In this case they were toeing the white house line and not laying out the facts for Congress. The GOP congress members didn't care. They were on board and now keep up their usual patriotic pretense. Pelosi didn't elicit the facts at the briefing but that is a common failing of Congress in these situations. Now she tells the truth as she remembers it and is vilified by Ignatius and other pets of the neocons and intel establishment. Hang in there Nancy!

Posted by: annegreen | May 16, 2009 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Torture is just plain wrong. It does not matter whether or not Pelosi knew about it or not.

Posted by: Provincial | May 16, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Mrs. Pelosi claims that the CIA is lying. The CIA and David Ignatius claim that Mrs. Pelosi is lying.

Hmmm. This seems like the kind of situation that calls for a thorough investigation. Let's get it on!

Oh, wait! You don't want to investigate things, do you, Mr. Ignatius? You don't want to re-litigate the past (which hasn't actually been litigated yet, but never mind).

Well, I guess we'll all just have to keep walking, then. Nothing to see here.

Posted by: SteinslandRune | May 16, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Waterboarding is a grey-area technique that some would call torture and others would not. Clearly, it is not a pleasant experience. But apparently, it achieves results without inflicting permanent physical damage on the recipient. I for one do not lose a lot of sleep worrying about the psychological harm that it might do to a terrorist who wants to kill me and my family.

On the spectrum of tools at our disposal for protecting the nation, waterboarding is pretty tame stuff. After all, we do have the world's largest arsenal of thermonuclear weapons, and I have not heard President Obama say he would never use those.

This is an issue because Pelosi and other Democrats want to Monday morning quarterback the issue of EIMs. Back in 2002, remember, we were fearful of another 9/11 style attack. Apparently now the Dem congressional leadership is so confident in our national security (without so much as a tip of the hat to the president who provided it for us) that it seeks to retroactively criminalize the behavior that they themselves consented to when it mattered.

One can agree with waterboarding (as did a number of pro-defense Democrats), or disagree with it (as did Sen McCain and some other Republicans) without advocating that it be retroactively criminalized.

Obama's instincts, to change the policy and to move on, are the right ones. But that's not enough for bloodthirsty Democrats who want to see Bush imprisoned and Cheney swing. And who fear they cannot maintain support for Democratic initiatives without using Bush/Cheney as the continuing political opponent. That's what this is all about.

Were there not a movement among the Dems to criminalize past policy differences, Pelosi's acquiescence to waterboarding when it was presented to her would not be an issue.

Besides being fundamentally dishonest (politics being hypocrisy in action, generally), Pelosi is an incompetent. That is pretty obvious just by watching her speak. If the DC media ever decides to stop protecting her, she won't last five minutes.

Obama, on the other hand, is no dummy. Besides the imperative of thinking about the security of the nation, he also has to think about the precedent of criminalizing political differences. If we start doing that, our system is no better than the Soviet system of throwing political opponents into the gulag.

Obama knows that he will be a former president someday. His decisions will someday be second-guessed by political opponents who will have control of the Justice Department and congressional inquiries. From his chair, it can't look like a very good idea.

So I predict he's going to let Pelosi drown in her own quagmire here and then suggest quietly to Speaker Hoyer that demagoguing policy differences is OK, but criminalizing them is not.

Posted by: bobking84 | May 16, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

When will they announce the dates, cities and ticket prices for the Pelosi "Farewell Tour"?

Posted by: GoodOleBill | May 16, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Ignatius,

Your post frightens me. You write: "If you read the CIA’s careful, ten-page summary of the 40 briefings it has given to Congress since 2002 on “enhanced interrogation techniques,” it’s pretty hard not to conclude that Pelosi is shading the truth to retrospectively cover her backside."

Why are you so impressed with the "careful" summary? Perhaps you haven't heard that the CIA gave Sen. Graham a "careful" list of four briefings that he was given by the CIA, three of which never occurred. One might wonder whose backside the senator was covering, if it wasn't for the fact that-according to Sen Graham-the CIA admits it was wrong about three of those meetings.

You write:

"Pelosi’s apparent rewriting of the record would be shocking -- if it weren’t so typical of congressional behavior on this subject."

Has the CIA ever made a mistake in their communications? Are all its members beyond the temptation to misrepresent. Or do you believe that when the CIA presents a summary saying that it is right and the congresswoman is wrong, this "careful" summary is both probative and conclusive.

I worry that the CIA may have done something wrong, and may be trying to rewrite history to cover its backside. Being involved in torturing people might provoke a CYA approach in the Agency after all.

What makes you so sure that it is the congresswoman who is doing the rewriting? Oh yeah, I remember, she is a member of congress, and we know what they are like.

Posted by: mrottman | May 16, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi is, as Newt Gingrich says, " a minor politician" and is a prime example of what gives some women in positions of responsibility a bad name.
Dave W

Posted by: texda | May 16, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Pelosi is lieing and she needs to resign. The CIA would have no reason to lie to Congress. Pelosi lies all the time

Posted by: SavedGirl | May 16, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Annegreen, if you think the CIA "toes the White House line", you are not a very good student of history.

The CIA, like all bureaucracies, is first and foremost concerned about its own interests, its future, and its power. Just because each president appoints a Director does not mean the organization turns on a dime, if at all. In this regard it is exactly like the State Department. The CIA has its own agenda.

The CIA learned from the Church Committee experience in the '70s to cover its ass by briefing ranking members of both parties on anything that could boomerang back to the detriment of the Agency. Without question, EIMs fall under that category. Waterboarding is the classic thing that you would want everyone in a position of responsibility to know about so that it would not become a partisan political football.

John McCain, when he heard about waterboarding, raised holy hell about it. I didn't agree with him about it, but I certainly respect his take on the matter, and nobody could deny his credibility and his honor in raising the subject with the Bush Administration.

But Pelosi was not there with McCain. She, like most Democrats, were tacitly for EIMs when public opinion was for them, and then turned against EIMs when public opinion turned against them.

Not exactly a Profile in Courage, that Nancy Pelosi.

Posted by: bobking84 | May 16, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

It is so nice to see our President acting like a commander-in-chief. I actually had little hope with the liberal (head in the clouds) rhetoric he was using during the election.

Posted by: sticker | May 16, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Nancy Pelosi is not merely incompetent.

She's not just a liar.

Nancy Pelosi is an incompetent liar.

That's a fatal flaw for a Democrat politician.

Posted by: battleground51 | May 16, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Good Grief! Just because the Mainstream Media couldn't lick enough dirt off the shoes of the last administration, they've gone outright bonkers over this. Don't worry so much about who did whatever LISTENING at a classified briefing. How about finding out who ORDERED torture. Cheney appears to be an outright sadist.

Posted by: etherbunny | May 16, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius of course is pro-torture and had a substantial role in lying us into the Iraq war. So of course he, along with republicans, the cia, and the post, is trying to shift the blame to Pelosi.

The CIA did help the Bushies lie us into an illegal war, the CIA did participate in illegal torture, and so why in the world should we not expect them to lie again?

I believe Pelosi. This is absurd.

Posted by: dougd1 | May 16, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

When BHO took office one the first thing Nancy and the Dems did was demand the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Dick Cheney) Why would she do that knowing that she had knowledge of what was done after the fact? She then set on that knowledge until BHO was elected. She is not a dumb person, she must have known it might bite her on the butt. Unless she convinced herself she didn't know anything. I believe that would make her delusional, which would be worst then just being a teller of tall tales.

Posted by: Tango121 | May 16, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Typical of a beltway neocon apologist.
How the hell did you get this job?
Oh, never mind.

Posted by: mamzic | May 16, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Most of liberals in here are complete dunderheads. I mean, you're not even rational!

Nancy Pelosi is in trouble because she stood up on a soapbox and screamed for investigations and prosecutions as to who knew what and when about waterboarding.

Turns out... SHE KNEW ABOUT IT AND SHE APPROVED IT! She's either a liar, incompetant or delusional.

But, I don't want to be too hard on Nancy. You have to remember that at that period in time, we had just been hit by the 9-11 attacks, we had somebody mailing anthrax all over Washington and everyone thought that a second attack was imminent.

We really need to give Nancy a break. EVERYONE thought a second attack was imminent.

And we never did get a second attack because of... ooops.... never mind. Guess liberals don't want to go down THAT road, now do they?

Posted by: spartanfan | May 16, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey, "Ninjagin": So Pelosi was "not in an oversight position"?????? She was ranking member of the House Permanent Select Commitee on Intelligence"!!! That is one of their 2 primary functions--oversight (budgeting being the other). I am a retirfed 30 year veteran of the U.S. Intelligence Community and believe that there is a small possibility that the CIA may have "mislead" Congress----evidence currently available backs the Agency, but to imaigne that career, non-political-appointee CIA briefers would place their futures and retirements in jeopardy is far-fetched. Rather, it is far easier to suspect the motives of a career leftist politician caught on the "wrong" side of an issue (enhanced interrogation techniques) with her far-left constituents.

Posted by: felix335 | May 16, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

How ODD!

BUSH blamed the CIA for being wrong about the WMD's in Iraq and the CIA just sat there, like they were just fine with being blamed by the President of the United States for the hundreds of thousands of needless deaths in Iraq.

So THIS is worse that THAT?

So the CIA is okay that they got blamed for Bush and Cheney's horrible choice to invade Iraq and they are perfectly okay that the American people now know they tortured people.

But the CIA is now going ape.s.hit because the Speaker of the House contends they didn't tell her they were torturing people in August 2002????????

Well, the bottom line is Nancy Pelosi wants a Truth Commission.

We are now guaranteed to have a Truth Commission.

We want to know what the CIA knew about torture and when they knew it.

And we want to know what BUSH knew about torture and when he knew it.
I have a sneaky suspicion that President Cheney never told him.

Posted by: freespeak | May 17, 2009 6:24 AM | Report abuse

I wish CIA would go after her……………May be Pelosi is afraid of the CIA? If she does not shut her trap soon, I think Obama’s HLS may put the CIA in charge of refueling her 747 :-)

Posted by: Firefox | May 17, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Firefox, think about your comment.

Pelosi and Obama are far closer than Panetta and Obama.
If Obama WANTED Pelosi to stop, all he would need to do is pick up the phone.

He hasn't.
Because this is all a win-win for his team:

He gets to move forward with dignity.
Panetta gets to publicly defend Obama's CIA.
Pelosi gets to publicly expose Bush's CIA.
And the Senate -- under Whitehouse, Leahy et al -- get to expose the illegal activities of Dick Cheney.

Pass the popcorn.

Posted by: freespeak | May 17, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Number One, It's not torture. Number Two, Pelosi is getting beaten up because she's lying. She was for harsh interogation right after 9-11, when the Abu Graib pictures came out, she was suddenly against it. Then when her party got power back, she wanted prosecutions. Somebody this dishonest shouldn't be tolerated

Posted by: iblain | May 18, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

The 'Lady'... needs a REAL vacation. And She's not alone. I still remember last October/November. The 'red eye special', deer in the headlights look of our public servants in Congress. Some of them with their hair askew, dropping papers, trying to grasp a microphone.... without actually looking at it... And recently, in 'zombie stress mode'. I say cut the 'Lady' some slack. And the others. Try walking a mile in Their shoes... and THEN look Me in the face and say,: "I enjoyed that walk".

Posted by: deepthroat21 | May 18, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius, have you ever been briefed by the CIA or the WH Chief of staff?

You are an idiot. Pelosi and whoever was briefed, was at the same time forced to swear to total silence. Did they get to hear the full truth? Maybe not; knowing that the CIA either falsified intell, or kept silent when intell was fasified to justify the invasion of Iraq.

So give it a rest, you morons. The guilty parties involved try to divert attention from the doers to those that, maybe, knew a little bit. Most likely lies.

Posted by: mackiejw | May 18, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"Want your daughter tortured? Your wife? Yourself? Our troops?" No. Do you want your daughter, wife, self and troops killed by a terrorist group, even though someone with information was caught but we were so busy baking them cupcakes and making them comfortable that we never got information out of them that would have saved lives?

Posted by: sam38 | May 19, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't anyone else see the obvious connection? President Obama makes a 180 and announces he's not going to make public apparently horrific photographs of torture the same week we all find out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew about it.

Nancy knew and now we see the photographs of just how bad it really was. She could have been a real representative, risked her political career and exposed the horror.
Instead, she hid in the pack.

If President Obama had released the photos, the visuals would have been the final fatal blow to Pelosi's political career, and that would have devastated the Democratic party.

If President Obama wants a political party, he had to hide the photos. Simple.

Posted by: thinkingaloud | May 20, 2009 2:11 AM | Report abuse

It is so ironic that Pelosi and Company tried to use waterboarding; non-fatal and non-injurious as it was practiced, as a torture issue when there were as many interrogation experts in and out of the State and Defense Departments that said it was “not” torture as there were that say it was. Pelosi foolishly tried to use the waterboarding issue to beef up her numbers of left leaning legislators after the elections. Now the ploy has come back to bite her and she can't shake the monster that she created; neither can the rest of the Democrats who bought into this scheme. I wonder who the new speaker of the House will be. Someone with some brains, tact, and political forethought...perhaps? Interestingly, 2010 will likely be a congressional regime change similar to that of 1994.

Posted by: OIFVet06 | May 20, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

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