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Today’s Washington Post carries an op-ed by Marc Thiessen, author of Courting Disaster, concerning Nancy Pelosi‘s ever morphing story over what she knew about waterboarding. Before we go farther, in order to keep Media Matters or some other lefty from having an aneurysm let me stop and advise everyone that Courting Disaster is published by Regnery Publishing, a division of Eagle Publishing which is the [::ominous music] parent company of RedState. As a matter of full disclosure I have not read the book but would gratefully do so if they would send be a free copy]
Thiessen points to an incident in 2004 when Nancy Pelosi was House minority leader and intervened in a CIA operation she objected to. He rightfully points out that if she was able to stop one operation then her whole defense on the issue of not speaking up on the issue of waterboarding becomes viable only to the lobotomy-based community. I think, however, there is a bigger story here.
From the October 4, 2004 issue of TIME
PRESIDENT BUSH and interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi insisted last week that Iraq would go ahead with elections scheduled for January, despite continuing violence. But U.S. officials tell TIME that the Bush team ran into trouble with another plan involving those elections–a secret “finding” written several months ago proposing a covert CIA operation to aid candidates favored by Washington. A source says the idea was to help such candidates–whose opponents might be receiving covert backing from other countries, like Iran–but not necessarily to go so far as to rig the elections. But lawmakers from both parties raised questions about the idea when it was sent to Capitol Hill. In particular, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi “came unglued” [emphasis added] when she learned about what a source described as a plan for “the CIA to put an operation in place to affect the outcome of the elections.” Pelosi had strong words with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice in a phone call about the issue.
To fully understand the context one has to consider the time. We invaded Iraq in March 2003 and the plan was predicated on the idea that we would topple Saddam and then swiftly replace him with another government. The CIA finding dates from the spring of 2004. At the same time, however, the Democrats were engaged in probably one of the most disgraceful presidential campaigns in modern US history, a campaign fittingly headed by one of the most disgraceful presidential candidates in modern US history. It was as clear then to the Democrats as it was in 2006 that an unstable Iraq and a constant drumbeat of American casualties was a quick road to electoral success. Funding Iraqi political parties who were friendly to the United States would ruin one of the memes developed by the Democrat which was that there were no viable US partners in Iraq. The presence of those parties would also have worked against the “cancel the elections because Iraq is too violent” talking point used by the Dems at this time.
The article goes on to point out that the spin from the Pelosi confidant, that the funds would have changed the outcome of the election, was not true. The CIA was only helping friendly parties achieve funding parity with parties funded by other regional actors. Even so, it is more than a little unclear to me why having a friendly party win the elections, which had not been held with this article was written, is a bad thing. I might be concerned that the CIA was simply not competent to ensure the funding remained secret but the thought of having our guys win shouldn’t make any member of congress come “unglued.”
The other insight here is that the Bush Administration obviously consulted regularly with the Dem House leadership and actually responded to their objections. I don’t know why they did this and it didn’t work out well for them or the country.
I am a lot less concerned about Pelosi’s lack of candor and integrity on what she knew about waterboarding than I am with her intervening in a fairly mundane CIA operation for no other purpose than seemingly to ensure that Iraq was a political difficulty for Bush in 2004.