Even if someone at the CIA disagreed with the policy, he or she had all the cover anyone could ever ask for: "We had to assume the Vice President was acting at the direction, and with the consent and knowledge, of the President."
Not that many people in Washington will pick up a phone and, having reached the President, will say: "This is what the Vice President has instructed us to do. Does that comport with your policy?"
You do that, your last name better be the same as the President's and you'd better have the title: First Lady.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi will use this latest report as evidence that she was correct in her assertion that the CIA lied to her about waterboarding in spite of the fact that this activity had nothing whatever to do with waterboarding. Pelosi has been scrambling for a hand-hold in this CIA thing and she now has been handed a scaffold.
If the CIA lied about this surveillance program, doesn't it stand to reason it would lie about the waterboarding thing? No. It doesn't but this is not a college debating society, this is the Congress versus the nation's spy agency.
The problem is, the nuances of this fight will be lost on our enemies. The Taliban is killing Afghans and Americans in Afghanistan. Iran is looking for any cracks in the dam of Western opposition to its nuclear program. North Korea is … North Korea.
One or all will see this as further evidence that America's leaders are more focused on scoring cheap domestic political points than protecting the nation from outside attacks. I don't believe that to be true, but that's what it would look like to me if I were sitting in a hut somewhere in Southwest Asia looking for talking points to buck up a sleeper cell in the American Midwest.
This has got to stop. Someone has to be the grownup. Pelosi has to find out who the "two people with direct knowledge of the matter" are and have them arrested. The CIA has to obey the law and brief the Congress as required.
If Pelosi can't or won't and the CIA can't or won't, then it falls to the President.
We all know where this buck stops.