Some people have asked why Pelosi hasn’t just said, “Look, at the time of the briefings I thought waterboarding was okay, but now I see the light and I’m against it.” Such a statement would have arguably gotten her in a lot less trouble than the course she’s taken instead: a series of ever-changing and hedgy excuses that read as lies, culminating in her making accusations against the CIA that have roused its formidable defenses against her.
I don’t think Pelosi is stupid, although I agree with almost nothing she stands for or says. She has shown great political savvy and cunning in her long career. Why does it appear to be deserting her now?
I see Pelosi as having been put between a rock and a hard place by Obama’s release of the “torture memos” and the resultant brouhaha. If she were to make the statement I posited in the first paragraph of this post, she would be admitting something that would contradict the entire Democratic Party “narrative” of the Bush administration’s decisions regarding terrorists.
Going that route would destroy the tale the Democrats have ridden to victory and power: that the Bush administration was evil, lying to us (rather than sometimes mistaken), trampling on liberties for the sake of power and even sadism. How can Democrats contradict themselves by acknowledging now that nearly all of Bush’s decisions in the war on terror were arrived at after due deliberation, analysis of the best information available at the time (the conclusion that Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs would be a prominent example), acting in the best interests of our country, and with an effort to preserve as much liberty and protection as seemed possible?
For Democrat leaders to do so would be to undercut their own story about Bush, which was (and remains) vital to their own success. So it cannot be done, and Pelosi knows it—even if she also knows it is actually the truth of why she did nothing to stop or protest waterboarding back when she was first informed about it.
[NOTE: Please read this article about the “torture memos” and the legal decision-making behind them.]