Now we’re entering the second week of the contretemps over whether or not the CIA wrongfully concealed a program from the Congress.
What began as a slanging match between the CIA and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) now has the CIA teetering on the brink of open warfare with its long time allies, Congressional Democrats.
The genesis of this was a baldfaced attempt by Pelosi's creature, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), to extract Pelosi from her unenviable position as a laughingstock and notorious liar.
This is by no means a new position for Pelosi but the latest manifestation occurred when her rather casual disregard for the truth was revealed by accusing the CIA of not briefing her on the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques used on al-Qaeda prisoners and she was called on her mendacity by numerous colleagues as well as the CIA. Techniques, by the way, which saved lives, prevented attacks, disrupted al-Qaeda networks, and resulted in the capture of some high ranking members of al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations. And as a result of being captured and interrogated the average prisoner has gained 20 pounds.
On July 7, some staffer from Reyes’s office, probably wearing a brown paper bag over his head, slipped a letter from Reyes under the door of ranking member Pete Hoekstra, after work hours, (I am not making this up) claiming the CIA had lied to the committee on some unspecified matter and stating he intended to investigate the CIA’s reporting procedures. Hoekstra has rightfully referred to that incident as "one of the most bizarre episodes in politics that I've seen in my time here in Washington."
The letter, which seems to have hit the press concurrently with its receipt by Mr. Hoekstra, had the intended effect of arousing the media from their preferred position, which resembles nothing so much as remora sharks attached to the posterior of the Democrat party, to full investigatory mode striving to reveal yet another instance of malfeasance by the evil Bush Administration.
It also had the unintentional effect of raising questions about the precise nature of this program Reyes allegedly wasn’t briefed on.
As best we can ascertain the program in question was set up after September 11, 2001 to kill top members of al-Qaeda. Take your time and read that sentence again slowly. Yes. In the aftermath of 9/11 the CIA came up with the idea that hunting down and killing al-Qaeda leaders was something that at least merited consideration. The House Democrats are concerned they weren't told about a program that was created to kill top members of al-Qaeda. And, of course, CIA Director Leon Panetta went fully supine at the first hint of having to take a stand and announced he had cancelled the program.
Based on reporting today, it seems virtually proven that the program in question was not subject to disclosure to Congress because, unsurprisingly considering that this involves the CIA, the program never advanced much beyond a metaphysical desire to kill al-Qaeda and then only when all conceivable risk had been eliminated. According to the NY Times, the Democrats are incensed not because they weren’t briefed on a program they were entitled to be briefed on, but because they were not briefed on a program the CIA had no obligation to disclose to them in first place.
Still Mr. Reyes, we are reliably informed, sent yet another letter to Mr. Hoekstra yesterday asking for his support in the planned investigation. We hope Mr. Hoekstra goes along.
As Erick pointed out last week, the Democrats are trying desperately to run against President Bush again in 2010. They are also using the CIA story, the Sotomayor nomination, and the possible prosecution of people who protected America from al-Qaeda as a smokescreen to divert attention from the socialization of large swaths of the economy through a takeover of health care, the crippling of American industry by way of cap-and-trade, and the utter failure of the Administration to take any action to mitigate the recession they have aggravated.
If hauling CIA officials before Congressional panels and destroying the minute levels of initiative that exist at Langley is what it takes to protect Pelosi and divert attention from the real game, then Reyes, who has apparently checked his manhood at the door, has demonstrated he is fully capable of doing so.
It is difficult, based on what has been published to date, to see how this ends well for the Democrats for a number of reasons:
- There is no way Reyes can hope to hold a hearing on CIA reporting practices and not have the Pelosi matter given new life. Everyone knows Pelosi is lying on that particular count save, perhaps, Pelosi, herself, who in the past has shown a serene indifference to that fragile barrier that separates truth from falsehood.
- The CIA is trotting out its own band of anonymous leakers to combat the lies and innuendos being flogged by Mr. Reyes.
- The GOP will be asking the question that most Americans will be asking, "why was the program terminated?" (We will all be waiting breathlessly for Mr. Panetta's answer.)
At some point a lot of Dems will begin realizing that blaming the Bush Administration for not disclosing a secret program to Congress will not be a killer campaign issue in 2010 or 2012. The Administration can't possibly see any value in an ongoing conflict between CIA and Congress. And at some point both the Administration and Congressional Democrats are going to realize that trashing a program designed to kill al-Qaeda will be counterintuitive to most Americans.
By next week there is a 50-50 chance sanity will have set in and all of this will blow over. But we are talking about the Obama Administration, Reyes, and Pelosi. None of these have a record of much more than a nodding acquaintance with reality so this may yet escalate into full-blown warfare.
Pass the popcorn.