Hoekstra on Pelosi

“If Nancy Pelosi really believes that the CIA had lied to her, systematically, for seven years and yet she has done nothing, what does that say about her leadership?”

Those words came Wednesday afternoon from Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra during a conference call sponsored by the House Republican Conference, part of a concerted and welcome outreach reform effort undertaken by the House GOP to embrace changes in news and media and disseminate a positive, optimistic message distinguishing themselves from their counterparts across the aisle.

In talking about the ongoing debate regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s changing stories on CIA briefings and enhanced interrogation of terrorist detainess, Hoekstra focused mainly upon the effects both Pelosi’s actions, as well as actions taken by the Obama administration, have had upon morale in the intelligence community.

“This is a problem and an issue that never had to happen in the first place,” Hoekstra said. “It started when the president released the Office of Legal Counsel memos. At the time, Obama said we’d only look forward, not back. Even shortly afterward, Rahm Emanuel and other officials were on the talk shows saying the same thing — forward, not back.”

But soon thereafter, the Michigan Republican pointed out, the Democrats wanted to hold Bush administration officials accountable. The president subsequently backtracked and deferred to Attorney General Eric Holder. At that point, Hoekstra said, the Democrats called for prosecuting the attorneys involved, impeaching Jay Bybee–who since became a federal judge–and “enough was enough.”

“As soon as he started looking back in that threatening atmosphere,” he said, “we knew we needed to stop it.”

Now, Hoekstra said, it’s the Central Intelligence Agency which is risk averse and “lawyering up at a time when the threats to America continue to be significant.” The actions Nancy Pelosi has taken, he said, have made America more vulnerable.

Hoekstra mentioned that House Republicans have asked for documents to be released by the CIA, including memos which outlined what happened in the 40-plus briefings on the enhanced interrogation techniques. Basically, they’re hoping to ascertain exactly what Pelosi knew and when, and while Hoekstra says that Republicans are “at different places right now” when it comes to the possibility of calling for the Speaker’s resignation, the tipping point could come if she is unable to provide evidence of her charges against the Agency, “evidence that the CIA had systemically lied to her and Congress for seven years.”

“If she doesn’t have it, she’ll need to apologize,” he said. “At that point, you might even see a number of Democrats calling for her to resign.”

Toward the end of the call, I was given the opportunity to ask Congressman Hoekstra a few questions. The first was asked wearing the hat of a law student who, while listening to the congressman talk about the effect the Democrats’ actions are having upon morale in the ranks of the CIA and beyond, wondered if there was a legal–or in this case, legislative–solution; the second was asked as a concerned conservative who, after hearing Michael Steele downplay criticism of Pelosi and Timothy Geithner and other peripherals during his speech yesterday, is concerned that focus is being lost on what I feel is an extremely important discussion to be had.

Overall, I was very impressed with Congressman Hoekstra, and equally impressed with the outreach effort I’ve been seeing recently from the GOP. We’re fighting a group of uppity community organizers in 2010, 2012 and beyond, people whose roots are in obstructionism and selective education on political issues — we have ground to make up, and I’m delighted that we seem to be making progress where we, as concerned, right-leaning Americans, need it most. Anyway, here’s the result of my questions:

* * *

Congressman Hoekstra, is there anything, legislatively, that House Republicans like yourself can do to offer protection to CIA officials obviously demoralized by the actions taken by Nancy Pelosi and the Obama administration?

I’m not an attorney, but I’ve got some very smart ones working for me. I think that’s a great idea. When we do the intelligence authorization bill, we may want to put in some provisions—or try to put in some provisions, as I’m not sure that our colleagues on the Democratic side of the aisle will support us, but that doesn’t matter. We should still try to provide some protections for these CIA employees, and for the Justice Department employees.

Not only does this hurt their morale, not only does it jeopardize American security, it’s just flat out wrong. You can’t put these men and women who have risked their lives into this kind of jeopardy. I’ve met with these folks, and a lot of them may be on their first tours of duty overseas. You see them in Afghanistan, where someone comes in to meet with them and ask “where are you stationed?” and “who is there with you?” only to hear “well, we’re about five miles outside of Kabul” and “I’m there by myself.” It’s some 24- or 25-year-old kid and you’re thinking, “wow.” That’s a dangerous environment for them to be in, and this is the thanks that they get for the work that they’ve done over the last seven years in keeping America safe. It’s just flat out wrong.

Something rubbed me the wrong way when I heard Michael Steele’s speech yesterday. He spoke about the scrutiny on Nancy Pelosi almost as if it were a distraction, that instead we should take more of a head-on approach against the president. Do you feel that this is a distraction in any way?

Absolutely not. She’s the third most powerful person in the world, okay? This is real substance. A distraction is something in which you’re making a big deal out of something that isn’t a big deal. When you’ve got the Speaker of the House trashing and destroying the morale of your premier intelligence organization, an organization which has been tasked with keeping America safe, that’s a pretty big deal.

When you’ve got the Speaker of the House calling for people to be potentially prosecuted, disbarred or held accountable – remember, this is about accountability, and she wants other people to be held accountable, but when it comes to her being held accountable, she sits there, wrings her hands, and says: “well, they didn’t really tell me.” Or, it’s: “well, they kind of told me, but I didn’t know they were going to do it.” Then, it’s: “They lied to me.” Then, it’s: “well, Bush lied.” She wants to hold everybody else accountable but, in typical Democrat fashion, she’s not willing to be held accountable. It’s everybody else’s fault.

So, no, I don’t think this is a distraction. Now, I didn’t hear Michael say that, but I think this is a pretty serious issue and a pretty serious failure of leadership by one of the key leaders in U.S. government.

I’m just waiting on: “well, it depends upon what the definition of ‘brief’ is.”

Yeah. That’s right. “I was briefed.” It’s kind of sad. She says she was told by one of her staffers, but they weren’t in a space where the briefing could take place, because it was classified and she wasn’t in a secure space. Her office is right underneath the intelligence committee. You walk up two floors and you’re in secure space, and she could have been told everything right there. She also gets briefed every week on intelligence issues. She could have, at any time, in any week, said that she wanted the briefings on interrogation methods. And there’s every indication that she never even asked for that.

So, I think for holding the Speaker of the House accountable for these kinds of actions is an appropriate and necessary and essential job in our government. I’m in Congress – it’s my job to make sure that the House of Representatives distinguishes itself by what we do, and one of the things we do is we hold our leadership accountable.

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Comments

  1. Igor says:

    Old Russian saying…You can tell same lie 1000 time(Ms Pelosi) but not change truth!

    Difference between USSR Communist media and USA “mainstream media”

    In Russia government make media say what they want – even if lie.
    In USA “mainstream media” try make government what they want – even if lie..
    …..eventually they become same thing?!

    I Igor produce Obama Birth Certificate at http://www.igormaro.org

  2. Rix says:

    It is highly unfair to hold Her Botoxity responsible for her lies while the rest of serials liars roam the D.C. free. One would think she’s singled out and harassed for her stunning looks.

  3. Gail B says:

    Great interview, Jeff! Excellent points brought up. Thank you.

    What bothers me deeply about Pelosi is a point that I think you yourself made: Who would want to serve in the armed forces when our own government won’t support our troops? Say the CIA lied. If they lied to Pelosi, they lied to the troops. If the CIA goes down, the troops go down. Of course, the CIA did NOT lie!

    Pelosi lied. She lied to keep from being seen in agreement with Bush and members of the CIA under Bush. The blood-thirsty liberal Democrats were after Bush’s throat. Pelosi saw herself as being in the path of this attack.

    Either Pelosi has principles (object to the enhanced interrogation techniques at the time) or she doesn’t (lie her way out of it). It is now evident that she didn’t have principles then because she did not object, and she doesn’t have principles now because her pants have gone up in flames!

    So, what do we have? A Speaker of the House of Representatives who cannot be believed anytime she opens her mouth now! And, who in the CIA (or anywhere else, for that matter) is going to trust her down the line? She has no integrity.

    Neither does the Big O.

    My daddy told me back in the Stone Age that if people can’t trust me, I don’t have anything. Integrity is the most important character trait anyone can have.

  4. toto says:

    If nothing else, Pelosi should see this as a major mistake on her part. If she doesn’t turn this around, and fess up, you can bet the CIA will do some digging, if they haven’t already, and suddenly, something will leak about her that will be very damaging indeed. For her, she has put herself in a no win situation, and frankly, I couldn’t be happier.

  5. Nameless Cynic says:

    Nice interview/article. I especially love this line: We’re fighting a group of uppity community organizers in 2010, 2012 and beyond, people whose roots are in obstructionism and selective education on political issues“Uppity”? Really? As a law student, you should probably be a little more careful with your choice of words. (Here’s a hint – do you remember that our president is black? Now, do you know the history of the word “uppity”?)Now, speaking of your description of these “uppity community organizers” (and God knows that we don’t need more “community organizers” – you know, like those fifty or so malcontents that met in Philadelphia back in 1775), I hope you won’t be offended if I point out that the current GOP is the party with their roots sunk the most deeply into obstructionism.

    And as for “selective education on political issues,” let me just point out how fascinating it is that Hoekstra is so concerned with the CIA being demoralized by Nancy Pelosi saying that she was never briefed, or making statements like “this is the thanks that they get for the work that they’ve done over the last seven years in keeping America safe.”

    Hoekstra initiated a congressional inquiry into whether the CIA misled Congress on a different matter — the 2001 shooting of a plane carrying an American missionary in Peru. Here’s what Hoekstra said about the CIA six months ago:

    This issue goes to the heart of the American people’s ability to trust the CIA,” the Michigan lawmaker said Thursday. “Americans deserve to know that agencies given the power to operate on their behalf aren’t abusing that power or their trust.”And when CIA director Michael Hayden said that Congress had been briefed in advance on the agency’s decision to destroy tapes that showed torture, a Hoekstra spokesman contradicted that claim, saying that Hoekstra was “never briefed or advised that these tapes existed, or that they were going to be destroyed.”

    That can’t have been good for the CIA’s morale, being called a liar like that.

    And last year, Hoekstra accused the CIA of withholding information from Congress about negotiations with North Korea. Hoekstra accused the administration of failing to treat Congress with “respect,” adding: “We regret to say the administration has deliberately attempted to sideline Congress in the fear that providing us with information about the North Korean regime’s continuing lies and reckless behavior would undermine the current diplomatic approach.”

    Of course, it was the 2007 NIE that made Petey particularly cranky, because it suggested that he shouldn’t be allowed to start bombing Iran. He called their closed-door presentation on the subject “pathetic,” and said that Congress “didn’t find them forthcoming.”

    It’s fascinating how Republicans are allowed to criticize our intelligence community, but as soon as Democrats do it, they’re “threatening America’s safety.”

    I hesitate to use words like “hypocrite” when I’m talking about elected members of Congress. Except for Big Pete Hoekstra, of course.

  6. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    Cynic — point taken on Hoekstra’s past with the CIA. He distinguished his interaction with the agency with Pelosi’s yesterday. I’m pretty fair when it comes to pointing out hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle; in the case of Hoekstra, I was satisfied with what he had to say, and made the judgment call from there.

    I need to look up “uppity” now, apparently, though. Interesting.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Jeff,

    You wrote:
    “The actions Nancy Pelosi has taken, he said, have make America more vulnerable.”

    “make” should be “made”?

    elspeth

  8. JEFF SCHREIBER says:

    Thank you, elspeth. My TelePrompTer was unplugged.

  9. Jackie Smith says:

    Igor…you are one funny dude….everyone should visit his website…..quite interesting and it will give you a laught!!!

  10. EVERY WORD COUNTS says:

    See, Jeff, we hang on your EVERY word. Thanks for this website and the intellect brought to it. Your wife does know she married a genius, right?

  11. HE AIN'T HEAVY, HE AIN'T BLACK says:

    Nameless Cycnic, once again he is not BLACK.

    up·pi·ty
    adj. Informal
    Taking liberties or assuming airs beyond one’s station; presumptuous: “was getting a little uppity and needed to be slapped down” New York Times.

    I think the word fits.

  12. Nameless Cynic says:

    Jackie,
    Igor cuts-and-pastes that identical message wherever he goes. He’s just pimping his one-page blog, as far as I can tell. I’ve seen that same message on 3 other sites.

    Heavy B
    Gee, I don’t know. His father was black, he’s dark of skin: in fact, he exhibits all of the racial characteristics of a black man. He definitely falls into that old Mississippi “one-drop” rule. I’m sorry that your poorly-suppressed racism can’t accept that a black man is now President of the United States.

    (If you’re trying to say he’s actually Muslim, three points:
    1. Obama is a Christian,
    2. Even if he were, there are black Muslims (even ones outside the Nation of Islam), and
    3. Don’t be an idiot.)

    Now, “uppity” is a word from the South.

    uppity: 1880, from “up;” originally used by blacks of other blacks felt to be too self-assertive (first recorded use is in “Uncle Remus”). The parallel British variant uppish (1678) originally meant “lavish;” the sense of “conceited, arrogant” being first recorded 1734.So what we have here is a word used to describe blacks who are above their station. And although it was originally used by blacks, if you’ve ever lived in the South, you’d know that it’s primary use is by Southern racists, and is usually found in the phrase “uppity nigger.”

    (And, incidentally, the man is President of the United States, but you say that something is “above his station?” He isn’t good enough? Again, your poorly-concealed racism rears its ugly head. And by the way, a majority of the electorate appears to have openly disagreed with you.)

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