All of this is only important because years later Pelosi became one of the Bush administration's biggest critics regarding most of the GWOT techniques they used. Of course, if she was briefed years earlier did nothing, and then years later she attacked the very same techniques publicly, well, that's just the most cynical kind of politics. Then, Speaker Pelosi held this now infamous press conference.
The press conference became famous not only for the startling accusation that Pelosi made toward the CIA (that they lied), but the totally uncomfortable manner with which she conducted herself.
Speaker Pelosi made this accusation at her weekly news conference. As such, the entire political world was riveted for her next news conference. We were all terribly disappointed when Speaker Pelosi stood by her earlier statement but then pronounced that she had nothing more to say.
At the time, I couldn't believe that it would stand that the Speaker of the House, third in line for the presidency, could accuse the CIA of lying, stand by the statement, offer no proof or evidence, and then proclaim that she was through talking about the matter.
Yet, for several weeks, there wasn't much said. Sure, the Republicans used it to their full advantage. For instance, this appearance by Minority Leader Boehner summed up the manner in which the Republicans attacked the speaker.
Still, the story seemed to be receding from public view. Then, the CIA director met secretly with the House and Senate Intelligence Committee on June 24th. At that meeting, he apparently revealed that the CIA hid a program from the Congress. It just so happened that within two weeks, the House Intelligence Committee was going to debate an intelligence bill. It was widely believed Republicans would use this debate as an opportunity to attack Pelosi and againd demand that she provide proof or apologize.
So, last Thursday, a letter was leaked from seven Democratic House members of the intelligence committee. This letter was written to Leon Panetta, director of the CIA. In the letter, the Democrats demanded that Panetta publicly recsind statements that it is NOT policy for the CIA to mislead Congress because in this June 24th secret meeting he disclosed that the CIA had "concealed significant actions from Congress since 2001".
What was this "significant action"? That, we found out yesterday when some details of this program were released.
The precise nature of the highly classified effort isn't clear, and the CIA won't comment on its substance.
According to current and former government officials, the agency spent money on planning and possibly some training. It was acting on a 2001 presidential legal pronouncement, known as a finding, which authorized the CIA to pursue such efforts. The initiative hadn't become fully operational at the time Mr. Panetta ended it.
So, when the Democrats claimed that the CIA lied to them about a "significant action" that was really a program that was never even implemented. This program was always nothing more than in planning stages. Just think about this. If the CIA had to brief Congress about every idea it was trying out, they wouldn't do anything but brief Congress. As such, it makes perfect sense that they didn't brief Congress. There was nothing to brief yet. It wasn't as though they were about to take out UBL. They were merely thinking about implementing a program that might one day do so. The reality was that this program was never at a stage where Congress needed to be briefed.
Furthermore, for nearly eight years it was kept quiet by those in the Bush White House and successive CIA directors. Now, in the span of two weeks, all sorts of details have been leaked. Haven't the course of events proven that Cheney and the CIA should have kept it quiet for as long as possible?
The reality is that the Democrats have been playing politics with intelligence ever since Pelosi accused the CIA of lying. She was backed into a corner and so she made a shocking accusation. She knew she had nothing so she suddenly said she would say no more. Sensing that the Republicans would use this to their advantage, the Democrats leak totally misleading charges. In the process, they also allow for the leaking of far too much classified information. All of it is an attempt to protect the Speaker from the political fallout of making false charges against our intelligence .