When the CIA made a concerted effort in 2003 and 2004 to embarrass and unseat the Bush administration, I couldn’t help recalling the popular sixties novel and movie Seven Days in May. The story is a liberal fantasy involving a threatened right- wing military takeover of the United States government.
In the seventies the CIA joined the Pentagon as a villain in the liberal imagination, as in the film “Three Days of the Condor.” Unfortunately, in the event, the real-life intrusion of the CIA into domestic politics during the Bush administration was celebrated rather than regretted by liberals. They turned the monstrous Joseph Wison into a celebrity and culture hero.
Nancy Pelosi has given us Seven Days in May with a difference. The CIA has exposed Pelosi’s prevarication and ineptitude. It was only last month that Pelosi emphatically, if awkwardly, avowed:
“In that or any other briefing…we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used. What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel…opinions that they could be used.”
Then last week the CIA released its summary of intelligence briefings to congressional leaders including Pelosi. By contrast with Joe Wilson’s tales, the CIA summary has, so far as we can tell, the advantage of accuracy on its side. It contradicts Pelosi’s feigned ignorance, and it has thrown her into an addled state that makes her something of a spectacle.
Over the past seven days Pelosi has told a succession of stories regarding the state of her knowledge of waterboarding/”torture” practiced by the CIA in 2002. On Thursday Pelosi accused the CIA of lying, but she was unable to keep the story of her ignorance straight. She made herself a spectacle.
As we observed last week, the Pelosi spectacle reveals the key to the “torture” controversy. It is a partisan charade. And it is a charade of a particularly disgusting kind. The Democrats’ “torture” charade is a case of low politics masquerading as high principle.
In Pelosi House Democrats have the leader they richly richly deserve. She is perfectly represenative of them. In the past seven days, we have seen the “torture” charade unmasked as the highly useful pretense of the Democratic Party. It has served the party well, but in defending itself against Pelosi’s charges the CIA exposed it for what it is.