Burying Benghazi

by Tom Rogan
Nancy Pelosi’s national-security policy rests on short memories and her contempt for voters.

Somebody said to me yesterday, either people have gotten tired of Benghazi or they never knew about it in the first place.”

Nancy Pelosi, May 9, 2014

That wasn’t just a slip of the tongue. Evidently, Pelosi was so enamored by “somebody”’s quote that she had to repeat it to the world. She really shouldn’t have.

After all, whatever individual voters might think about the domestic politics of Benghazi, celebrating boredom or disinterest in the murder of four Americans doesn’t look great. Especially coming from a former speaker of the House. Still, no one should be surprised. This is just the latest burp from the intellectual black hole that is Nancy Pelosi’s national-security policy.

To begin, let us remind ourselves of a trip that then-Speaker Pelosi made back in April 2007. Against the wishes of the Bush administration, Pelosi went to Syria and met with Bashar Assad. During that visit, Pelosi made a rather remarkable statement: “The road to Damascus is a road to peace.” Even then, before the Syrian civil war, there was an extraordinarily toxic stupidity to those words. After all, as Pelosi praised Assad, his government was simultaneously facilitating al-Qaeda’s infiltration of Iraq. These terrorists were murdering hundreds of innocent Iraqis and American military personnel every month. As speaker of the House and a member of the “Gang of Eight,” Pelosi was fully aware of that reality. She simply didn’t care. Regardless, seven years later, her quote carries a different echo. Because today, the road to Damascus is a modern-day Appian way — except that, today, the littered dead are gassed children rather than gladiators. Some say that Pelosi couldn’t have known Assad’s evil back in 2007. That’s a lie. The nature of the Assad regime has always been clear. Pelosi gave it legitimacy.

Then there’s Pelosi’s record on the CIA interrogation saga. In 2002, she was briefed on the specifics of the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Program, including on waterboarding. But in 2009, when 9/11’s dust of falling bodies had settled and the public’s memory of 9/11 had dissipated, Pelosi rewrote history. Keen to burnish her position with CIA haters on the left, Pelosi insisted that she hadn’t been told about the waterboarding and that the CIA misled her. But watch this video and listen to the CIA official who briefed her. It’s damning. Yes, today, congressional Democrats are united in their desire to sell the CIA down the river. Still, most are at least a little awkward about their hypocrisy. Not Pelosi; she’s proud.

Then there’s Pelosi’s record on Iraq. It can be described by only one word: abhorrent. To be clear, Pelosi’s vote against the Iraq War was a choice that history will judge for good or ill. Nevertheless, in 2006, she again descended into her black hole of political opportunism. Just watch this video. Obsessed by her irrational hatred for Bush (in stark contrast to Bush’s kindness to her daughter), Pelosi was happy to lose a war in order to score a partisan victory. As former defense secretary Robert Gates has noted, during the surge, as the U.S. military bled to save Iraq, Pelosi persistently refused to give Petraeus a chance. As Gates sarcastically puts it, “After all, one wouldn’t want facts and reality — not to mention the national interest — to intrude upon partisan politics, would one?” Instead, Pelosi played to the idiocy of groups like MoveOn.org (which, incidentally, petitioned against labeling Boko Haram as terrorists before pulling the petition off its website).

This is the speaker who the commander-in-chief believes should return to power. There’s a shameless arrogance to Pelosi’s national-security policy. The former speaker seems to genuinely believe that what she speaks in any one moment becomes the truth for all time. A world in which Pelosi is the sole arbiter of reality. Or, as Orwell put it in 1984, a world in which “everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.”

But Pelosi’s disdain is deadly serious, because when an 18-year-old stands watch on a distant battlefield, or a CIA officer works tirelessly to gather intelligence to protect America, or a young Syrian seeks to live another day, they deserve more than the posturing of a partisan zealot. They deserve the honesty of a leader who cares.

Tom Rogan is a blogger and a columnist for the Daily Telegraph. He is based in Washington, D.C.

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