With no knowledge of what was said in secret briefings in Washington more than six years ago — briefings to which I was inexplicably not invited — I have no idea whether to side with Nancy Pelosi or the CIA in their dispute over who was told what and when by whom.
However, I think it’s entirely plausible that they’re both right.
One party comes into the meeting not wanting to give away too much information about what’s going on, and perhaps speaking in less than clear language. The other party comes in not wanting to press for too much information, and willing to accept less than clear language. Both parties come away believing they having accomplished their goals.
Six or seven years later, we have a mess.
However, in the scale of issues to be addressed regarding torture, it seems to me the Pelosi angle is exceedingly minor. Was legal? Did the Bush administration act within the Constitution? Was it effective, or did it slow the flow of accurate information? Did it end up saving lives, or did it end up costing American lives? Was it advocated by lower-level interrogators and approved reluctantly by those at the top, or was it pushed enthusiastically by those at the top and imposed on those lower in the chain of command? Was it used to save lives, or to extract politically useful confessions? Was the loss of moral standing worldwide justified by production of accurate information attainable by no other means?
Those questions far outweigh what Pelosi was or wasn’t told. And only a nonpartisan, noncongressional truth commission can produce the necessary answers.