Jonah Goldberg

When asked if the CIA lied to her, Pelosi not only said yes but upped the ante, accusing the CIA of "misleading the Congress of the United States," a blockbuster accusation by itself, which she multiplied by adding: "They mislead us all the time."

The fog of Pelosi's obfuscation, self-contradiction and blame-shifting is too thick to parse in this space, but some of the highlights include her claim that, even though she was told of the program, she couldn't do anything because lawmakers weren't allowed to object or speak out because of secrecy laws. This is nonsense on its face. And the CIA apparently has leaked to Fox's Jim Angle that Pelosi knows this isn't true; she halted a 2004 CIA program she didn't like simply by complaining about it.

Pelosi is contradicted not only by her own statements and actions but by testimony from former Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), who was in the room when Pelosi was briefed, and by President Obama's handpicked CIA director, Leon Panetta.

Pelosi's hypocrisy may be serving as a political logjam, but the issues at stake are far more serious. For all the talk about how the Bush White House "politicized" national security, it's now clear that Pelosi is a purely political creature, and much of the Democrats' opposition to the war on terror was nakedly partisan (a point underscored by Obama's unfolding embrace of Bush-era policies, such as his recent reversal on military tribunals).

Indeed, one of Pelosi's excuses is that she couldn't be distracted by speaking out against what she believes to be criminal torture because it was more important to win back a Democratic majority -- and become speaker. And, let the record show, Pelosi & Co. had no objection to selective CIA leaks when they undermined President Bush or the war effort. It's only when the CIA's testimony corrupts their simplistic moral narrative that the CIA becomes a nest of liars.

If the Bush administration made mistakes or committed crimes fighting the war on terror, those errors were far more bipartisan and systemic than the witch hunters want to acknowledge. A real truth commission might illuminate that fact. But that's the last thing Pelosi ever wanted. Meanwhile, Republicans clamoring for her scalp might ponder what they'll get if they succeed in forcing the Democrats to throw Pelosi over the side.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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