Sunday, May 17, 2009

Steyn on Pelosi

In the Orange County Register:

Uh-oh. Nancy Pelosi's performance at her press conference re: waterboarding has raised, according to The Washington Post, "troubling new questions about the Speaker's credibility." The dreaded T-word: "troubling."

I doubt it will "trouble" the media for long, or at least not to the extent of bringing the Pelosi Speakership to a sudden end – and needless to say I'm all in favor of Nancy remaining the face of Congressional Democrats until November 2010. But her inconsistent statements do suggest a useful way of looking at America's tortured "torture" debate:


Question: What does Nancy Pelosi think of waterboarding?

No, I mean really. Away from the cameras, away from the Capitol, in the deepest recesses of her (if she'll forgive my naïveté) soul. Sitting on a mountaintop, contemplating the distant horizon, chewing thoughtfully on a cranberry-almond granola bar, what does she truly believe about waterboarding?

Does she support it? Well, according to the CIA, she did way back when, over six years ago.

Does she oppose it? According to Speaker Pelosi, yes. In her varying accounts, she's (a) accused the CIA of consciously "misleading the Congress of the United States" as to what they were doing; (b) admitted to having been briefed that waterboarding was in the playbook but that "we were not – I repeat – were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used"; (c) belatedly conceded that she'd known back in February 2003 that waterboarding was being used but had been apprised of the fact by "a member of my staff". As she said on Thursday, instead of doing anything about it, she decided to focus on getting more Democrats elected to the House.

It's worth noting that, by most if not all of her multiple accounts, Nancy Pelosi is as guilty of torture as anybody else. That's not an airy rhetorical flourish but a statement of law. As National Review's Andy McCarthy points out, under Section 2340A(c) of the relevant statute, a person who conspires to torture is subject to the same penalties as the actual torturer. Once Speaker Pelosi was informed that waterboarding was part of the plan and that it was actually being used, she was in on the conspiracy, and as up to her neck in it as whoever it was who was actually sticking it to poor old Abu Zubaydah and the other blameless lads.

That is, if you believe waterboarding is "torture."

I don't believe it's torture. Nor does Dick Cheney. But Nancy Pelosi does. Or so she has said, latterly.

Well, let's have a Truth Commission and sort this all out.

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