Video: Pelosi goes nuclear on CIA over torture as Cheney's memo request is denied

A follow-up to Ed’s post, just because your enjoyment of this story won’t be complete without witnessing her comically palpable discomfort for yourself. What better way for The One to smooth things over with the intel honchos on which his counterterror strategy depends than by having the Democratic Speaker of the House call them a bunch of serial liars on national television?

CNN has the Cliff’s Notes version of the vid but I’m giving it to you uncut so you can watch the most shameful part, which runs here from about 5:30 to 9:30. To refresh your memory of the timeline, there’s no dispute that she knew waterboarding was going on by February 2003, when one of her staffers went to a briefing on it and relayed the details to her. The question is simply whether she found out even earlier than that, in September 2002, after the CIA had started waterboarding Abu Zubaydah. Why does the timing matter? Um, it doesn’t: Even if it’s true that the CIA told her in 2002 that they were only thinking of using the technique, the very thought of it should have ignited her righteous progressive outrage. Instead, her defense here — I kid you not — is that by the time she learned they were waterboarding people in 2003, Jane Harman had become the ranking member on the intelligence committee and so, you know, it wasn’t Nan’s job anymore to speak up. Besides, she was too focused at the time on the big Democratic electoral turnaround … which wouldn’t happen for another three years. Make sure you watch at least to the part where she insists she doesn’t think she should have done more to stop the program. There’s that old activist liberal spirit! As Andy Levy says, “Nancy Pelosi’s lies are so transparent birds are slamming into them.”

Meanwhile, as this soap opera’s playing out, Dick Cheney’s request to declassify the two CIA memos which he claims prove that torture works has been denied. Surprise. Exit quotation: “President Obama has the legal authority to declassify the documents ‘with the wave of his hand,’ according to one expert.”

Update: I want to highlight this bit from Ed’s post because it really is the million-dollar question:

And if the CIA really had lied to her in the briefings, why didn’t Pelosi start out with that explanation? In fact, why didn’t she mention that in 2005 when both the EITs and the briefings were made public? Coming four years later, this explanation lacks any kind of credibility.

The killer quote from today’s presser is “they mislead us all the time,” a reference to the CIA’s bad intel on Iraq’s WMD. If there really is a pattern of deception going on, why would she wait until there’s a Democrat in the White House to complain when she could have pinned the whole thing on Bush by screaming about it earlier?

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Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET