The Rare Reverse Kabuki
I don't know who fed the media this point, or maybe they just couldn't ignore the wealth of hypocrisy surrounding the right-wing hissy fit over Nancy Pelosi, but they have started to inexplicably push back. It started last week when Marcy Wheeler noted that Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, accused the CIA of providing insufficient briefings and even lying to Congress, regarding a separate investigation. In the interim, a host of elements of the CIA's story started to fall apart - their briefing record document included people who weren't in the meetings, people who lacked the security clearance to attend, and even stated Porter Goss was briefed in 2005 when he was the Director of the CIA at the time. The invaluable ThinkProgress dug up a copy of the letter Hoekstra sent to the CIA, and added this:
Similarly, in 2007, Hoekstra described a closed-door briefing by representatives from the intelligence community (including CIA) on the National Intelligence Estimate of Iran’s nuclear capability, saying that the members “didn’t find [the briefers] forthcoming.” More recently, in November 2008, Hoekstra concluded that the CIA “may have been lying or concealing part of the truth” in testimony to Congress regarding a 2001 incident in which the CIA mistakenly killed an American citizen in Peru. “We cannot have an intelligence community that covers up what it does and then lies to Congress,” Hoekstra said of the incident.
Maybe this was simply the easiest way for journalists to understand the emptiness of the hissy fit - Hoekstra said "lied," too - but for some reason they're off and running with this today. Wolf Blitzer confronted John Boehner with this and he had to concede the point. Newt Gingrich tried to play this off when called on it by Diane Sawyer, of all people, but it didn't work ut too well for him.
(not that anyone should give a crap what Newt Gingrich thinks.)
And here comes none other than Arlen Specter, calling 'em how he sees 'em with respect to the CIA:
Sen. Arlen Specter took the opportunity Wednesday to defend House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has come under fire in recent weeks over a controversy surrounding when she was told of the use of enhanced interrogation techniques being used by the CIA.
“The CIA has a very bad record when it comes to — I was about to say ‘candid’; that’s too mild — to honesty,” Specter, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a lunch address to the American Law Institute. He cited misleading information about the agency’s involvement in mining harbors in Nicaragua and the Iran-Contra affair.
I have no idea why the worm turned today, but this controversy is basically over. The CIA's theory is full of holes, and the Pelosi spat has turned into he said/she said, with the media willing to explore Republican hypocrisy on the issue.
Of course, defusing this time bomb has an added benefit - it ends any rising calls for investigations, perhaps starting with what Pelosi knew but encompassing the entire breadth of the torture regime from top to bottom. The Village certainly wants no part of that. So they had to play rough with Republicans for a couple days. It's almost a Kabuki dance in reverse - the media pretends to delve deep and fact-check precisely to pre-empt anyone else getting to actually delve deep and fact-check.
Pretty sharp. Meanwhile the whole "we tortured detainees to justify the war in Iraq" storyline has faded off into the distance as well. Maybe Jonathan Landay will drop yet another McClatchy bombshell soon.