James Kirchick’s provocative lede in his piece —“Is Nancy Pelosi a liar or a hypocrite?”— on today’s Politico pretty much tells the story that follows:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accomplished two unusual feats last week: She got the head of the CIA to call her a liar, and she implicated herself in what her left-wing base must, by dint of its own contrived logic, consider a war crime.
And today in “The Swamp,” Mark Silva reports a new CNN Opinion Research Corp. Poll that can’t have gone down too well in the Speaker’s Office:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken a fall in public opinion, according to a new CNN Opinion Research Corp. poll showing that nearly half of all Americans surveyed do not approve of the way the California Democrat is handling her job as speaker of the House.
The newest results come from a survey taken after the speaker accused the CIA of misleading her about the interrogation tactics that were being used on suspected terrorists several years ago. The CIA maintains that it briefed Pelosi on water-boarding and other tactics in September 2002, but the speaker maintains she was not told waterboarding was being used then. House Republican Leader John Boehner, siding with the CIA on the credibility question, accuses Pelosi of changing stories.
In the May 14-17 survey, just 39 percent said they approve of the job that Pelosi is performing as speaker and 48 percent said they disapprove. Only 12 percent voiced no view. In January, 51 percent had said they approved of the speaker’s performance and just 22 percent voiced disapproval.
And in his column today, Rich Lowry examines the tortuous logic of the Speaker’s position (or at least of one of her several positions) on this subject:
For Pelosi’s account to be accurate, the CIA must have engaged in one of the most baroque and ineffectual conspiracies in the history of Washington. Remember: Pelosi claims that the CIA lied to her in a September 2002 classified briefing and told her that it hadn’t waterboarded high-level al Qaeda detainee Abu Zubaydah. To support her version, Pelosi needs to stack implausibility on top of implausibility in a precarious Jenga tower of self-justification.
The CIA must have convinced Porter Goss, the Republican congressman (and subsequent CIA director) who was present at the 2002 briefing, to lie and pronounce himself “slack-jawed” at Pelosi’s account. It must have forged the “contemporaneous records” CIA Director Leon Panetta has cited that show Pelosi was told of the waterboarding. It must have either pulled the wool over Panetta’s eyes or enlisted the active engagement of the Obama nominee in a monstrous machinery of deception.