Friday, May 15, 2009

The Big Lie Is Back

Watching Kit Bond insist that House Speaker Pelosi couldn't claim that if CIA briefings were given her about torture she could not do anything about it anyway, I am once again seeing the putrefying lies wingers use to refute damaging charges. This morning on CBS news Bond claimed that she could have 'called for confidential hearings' - an action which was routinely ignored by the wingnuts in charge of the House at the time she was somewhat briefed.

Only those with short memories seem to inhabit the voter category for wingers, which is hardly a surprise. If memories include depression days, their deregulation mantra would long ago have been rooted out. As Timothy Noah pointed out yesterday at Salon, these days, in defeat, the wingers have returned to type, definitely not a nice one; t's a familiar pattern. ...When President Clinton submitted his first major domestic policy initiative to Congress—reform of the health care system—GOP strategist Bill Kristol famously urged congressional Republicans to reject any compromise "sight unseen." As President Obama and Congress prepare to introduce their own health care reform bill, history is repeating itself: GOP strategist Frank Luntz has already coached congressional Republicans on scare tactics to oppose it.

Speaker Pelosi has knocked the blocks out from under CIA and winger claims that she could have acted to stop torture if she had chosen. She has said that the briefing she actually got only described possible future use, and never established that such horrors had been committed by our own interrogators. Instead of arguing against the inhumane aspects of torture, once again the right wingers attack its opponents while clinging to their own failed ideology.

This morning, Huffington Post cites supporting evidence given by former Senator Bob Graham, another person braving what is sure to be outright bludgeoning by the faction that wants to keep torture, and keep the myth that we are protecting our security by ending our history as a civilized nation.

"What struck me...was the fact that in that briefing, there were also two staff members," he said. "As you know, the general rule is that the executive is to brief the full committees of the House and Senate Intelligence committees about any ongoing or proposed action. The exception to that is what is called "covert action," where the president...only briefs the Gang of Eight, which is the four congressional leaders and the four intelligence committee leaders. Those sessions are generally conducted at an executive site, primarily at the White House itself. And they are conducted with just the authorized personnel, not with any staff or any other member of the committee.... Which leads me to conclude that this was not considered by the CIA to be a Gang of Eight briefing. Otherwise they would not have had staff in the room. And that leads me to then believe that they didn't brief us on any of the sensitive programs such as the waterboarding or other forms of excessive interrogation."

The remarks made by Graham bolster the comments offered by Pelosi on Thursday. The Speaker told reporters that during her briefing session in the fall of 2002 she was not just kept in the dark about the issue of waterboarding, she was assured that it had not been used.

"Yes, I am saying that the CIA was misleading the Congress," she said.

However, records and testimony do show that high-ranking aides were present during a February 2003 briefing when waterboarding was discussed by the CIA with Reps. Porter Goss and Jane Harman.

Graham declined to speculate as to what took place during Pelosi's briefings, noting that the House and Senate had two entirely different sessions. But he did point out that, at the time, "the whole credibility of the intelligence committee, particularly the CIA, was pretty much in question" -- giving credence to Pelosi's claims that she was given faulty information.

"The irony," said Graham, "is that the whole series of events in late September of '02 were concurrent with the CIA's release of the first classified version of the National Intelligence Estimate, which was one of the key factors that led me to vote against the war in Iraq because I thought that their case was so weak.

The same CIA that asked for the torture memos to justify its war crimes is not going to accept its outing by a force for return to Geneva Conventions. While its position as the unfortunate agency ordered to carry out crimes by a maladministration that was trampling on the Rule of Law occasions some sympathy, the CIA will have to allow some great changes in its posture if it is to get through this latest crisis. Putting up a smokescreen isn't enough. Crimes have been committed, and punishment is going to be called for.

The CIA is in a position like that of the German high command following WWII. Its criminals will need to be prosecuted, not defended.

Speaker Pelosi is right to insist on getting the truth out, and the entire Congress needs to get to work with the prosecution of those who ordered, and committed, criminal acts. Anything else is betrayal of the country.

Of course, there will be lies. The Gang of No has nothing positive to run on, and will need to hide its record in the only way it knows. The big lies have been dragged out for its defense. That's all they've got.

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