In yet another desperate attempt to provide political cover for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, several Democratic senators have taken to the airwaves in recent days to distort my response to a tragic incident that led to the deaths of two innocent American missionaries, including a 7-month-old girl.
What Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin and his cohorts conveniently failed to mention is that my statements about the CIA were made immediately after the agency’s inspector general issued a report with specific evidence that it had misled Congress about the 2001 shoot-down over Peru of a missionary plane carrying Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter, Charity. Such sourcing for Speaker Pelosi’s claim at her now infamous press conference that the CIA misleads Congress “all the time,” however, seems to be lacking.
There is a clear difference between my public record of oversight on the Peru tragedy and the speaker’s attempts to cover-up what she knew and what she did not do after being told about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program. Rather than risk facing a backlash from liberal interest groups for her quiet complicity, the speaker instead chose to lash out at the CIA to cover her own record of inaction.
Given the damage to morale at the CIA following Speaker Pelosi’s still unsubstantiated claim, Republican leader John Boehner rightly called on the speaker to provide evidence for her claim — a federal offense should it be true — or apologize to the hard-working men and women of the agency primarily tasked with keeping our nation safe in the days and years after 9/11.
I agree with Boehner’s call and believe Speaker Pelosi can learn much from the example set by one of her primary defenders, the same Senator that has led attempts to distort my record, Senator Durbin.
The senator apologized after his statement on the floor of the U.S. Senate accusing American troops of being like Nazis, Pol Pot and Soviet gulag jailers drew much-deserved outrage and public scorn.
Durbin apparently understood the devastating impact of his statement on the morale of our Armed Forces and the propaganda coup he had just handed al-Qaeda and other radical jihadists around the world. Facing public backlash, he apologized, something I commend him for.
The question now is will Speaker Pelosi show similar courage and apologize for what she said?
As one of the most powerful people in our nation, and second in line in the order of presidential succession, the speaker’s words carry tremendous weight and significance. Speaker Pelosi’s comments were repeated around the world and were clearly heard by our enemies and allies alike. If someone in her position accuses the CIA of misleading Congress “all the time,” what message will they draw from her damning conclusion?
If the Speaker was truly serious about her accusation, she would be right to call for hearings and an investigation. It is exactly what I did after reviewing the CIA IG’s report on the Peru shoot down. I also sent my own letters, and when the agency convened an accountability board to review the Peru matter, I demanded and was granted access to testify before it in late April.
These are just a few of the tools available to Congress as we conduct oversight, and Democrats citing my efforts in this case have clearly demonstrated that the speaker was wrong when she claimed she could do nothing on enhanced interrogation.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill deserve to know if the speaker was serious about her accusation, and the CIA deserves the opportunity to defend itself. Beyond a doubt, we would want to know, understand and put mechanisms in place to prevent the agency from wantonly lying to Congress if Speaker Pelosi has proof. Yet no prominent Democrats have called for further inquiry into the speaker’s accusation, and everyone at the White House from the president to his spokesman is refusing to discuss the matter.
Oddly enough, wasn’t it Speaker Pelosi’s silence after learning about the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding by her own admission, which necessitated all of her attempted political jujitsu and dissembling? Strange then that we’re getting even more silence on her accusation of the CIA lying to Congress, which would generate much bipartisan outrage if proven true.
But for some, this issue has never been as much about what is true or in the best interest of national security as it has been about what would make the best politics. Hence the administration’s faulty decision to release the CIA interrogation memos, the needless calls for a truth commission to discover what Congress already knew, and the senators’ failed attempt to distort what I said following the CIA IG’s Peru report. So much for congressional oversight of intelligence. It’s politics that rule the day.