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She Did It

by Sudhama Ranganathan Friday, Jan. 15, 2010 at 11:15 PM

After the 2008 elections many in the Republican party went on the record stating the party needed to reach beyond it's traditional constituency and diversify. The new Chairman of the Republican National Committee said, "there was underlying concerns we had become too regionalized and the party needed to reach beyond our comfort" zones. Many discussed minorities and women as demographics they needed to bring in, but there has been a conspicuous lack of action regarding this. In some cases when they have talked it has seemed the opposite.

When Chairman Steele rebuked Rush Limbaugh for some of his more caustic remarks he was roundly clamped down on by his own party. The party has had numerous voices discussing recapturing the sliding Latino vote, but when prominent conservatives label the fight against illegal immigration from Latin America a "culture war" no one says much. In the same way when Republicans decided to go after Rep. Pelosi about knowledge of torture memos the use of sexist comments seemed as normal as cigar lovers fondly discussing Cuban rolled cigars.

This past week Mary Matlin a prominent republican spokesperson and intellect referred to what Rush Limbaugh says as "the essence of conservatism." Former Vice President Dick Cheney said the Republican party needed less Colin Powell's and more Rush Limbaugh's. Both are discussing the man who when talking about speaker Pelosi had this intellectual insight to offer saying if Speaker Pelosi "wants fewer births, I have the way to do this -- and it won't require any contraception: You simply put pictures of Nancy Pelosi -- in every cheap motel room in America today. That will keep birthrates down because that picture will keep a lot of things down."

Instead of discussing her views, her ideas or his own this party leader attempted to cheapen what she had to say by using gender based derogatory remarks as if a woman's looks held any real currency regarding her intellectual worth. Recent headlines have been full of furor over whether or not Speaker Pelosi had knowledge of waterboarding being used in 2002. After a disastrous press conference, in which she seemed confused about the issue, she has pulled away from the questions in light of what increasingly appears to be faulty information coming from the CIA. By sticking to her guns and toughing it out she looks like she may have a solid footing.

Many prominent Republicans when taking on the issue have resorted to exactly the kind of message which lost them so many votes in the 2008 election. First they copped to sexists jabs like Alex Castellano's comments on her appearance claiming because of botox she is incapable of facial expressions, Limaugh's claims her denouncement of torture has to do with being fashionable like fashionable clothes or Neal Boorz's admission, "how fun it is to watch that hag out there twisting in the wind." Next they attempt to defend and cover up messes created during the Bush administration by utilizing all the old tricks instead of giving us straight talk and helping to clean it up.

After the allegations of Speaker Pelosi hit Senator Bob Graham requested to know from "the company" when their records indicate he had met with them regarding the same matter. They gave him four dates. Senator Graham keeps his own hand written journal regarding his activities and when checked only one date contained a briefing with the CIA. They subsequently redacted three of them and their claims of having briefed him on waterboarding haven't been confirmed.

What we do know is many in the Republican party want to avoid knowledge of controversial and potentially illegal Bush era actions becoming public. This includes actions done by the CIA approved by them and under them. But that won't win them back public trust and that's coming from an independent. What voters requested was a break from the Bush years and the idealogy of anything sanctioned by the executive office is legal simply by virtue of where the approval originates.

For instance there have been more revelations recently regarding abuses of the law specifically concerning enhanced interrogation techniques before they were ever outlined by the Justice Department as being legal on August 1 of 2002. Before the Justice Department released the memo private contractors working for the CIA were torturing at least one prisoner including waterboarding. In fact a former FBI interrogator who was was involved said: "the interrogation team was a combination between FBI and CIA, and all of us had the same opinion that contradicted with the contractor... The contractors had to keep requesting authorization to use harsher and harsher methods."

In order for the contractor using these harsh interrogation techniques he had to brief and get permission from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on a daily basis. The contractor was a psychologist named James Mitchell who worked for a firm called Mitchell Jessen & Associates. They had no experience in interrogations and formerly taught Army soldiers to resist torture. They were skilled in methods used by the lowest of the low and the cruelest of the cruel (apparently now we use psychologists like the Nazis used dentists).

We got ourselves into the business of stooping to the methods of tyrants, dictators and brutal regimes we have denounced and previously tried people for implementing. According to former White House counsel, Bradford Berenson, regarding the daily briefings pre-August 1, 2002, he couldn't "believe the CIA would have settled for a piece of paper from the counsel to the president... If that were true then the whole legal and policy review process from April through August would have been a complete charade."

Perhaps there are those who would wish to scapegoat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to avoid dealing with such issues or the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. The CIA says it does not make those kind of mistakes, but when looking at how they told president Bush the evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was a "slam dunk" or the false claims of meetings with Senator Bob Graham they start to appear mortal. As such they should be held to account like everyone else. How else will they change?

To try and distract the public by using sexist descriptions of the first female Speaker of the House only adds to the dubious nature of the accusations being thrown at Speaker Pelosi. It makes it unclear whether those throwing accusations from the GOP really seek a stable and secure intelligence community or political advantage. What's also unclear is the GOP's true stance on a more diverse constituency.

There is no doubt people are working hard in the CIA to keep us safe and do the job for which they are paid. But, we don't need any federal agency which repeatedly attempts to cover the tracks of those who aren't instead of owning up to mistakes and cleaning up its act. Nor do we need politicians who constantly apologizing for them without thought.

Not all Republicans are stuck in the stone ages, but someone needs to read the memo from the last election. Bush era tactics, snakelike maneuvering on behalf of mercenaries, cover-ups, racism and sexism are outdated and outmoded. National security is always the first priority and it only follows allowing threats to remain for the sake of preventing embarrassment only reveals more insecurity than courage or strength. The same goes for sexist comments.

To read about my inspiration for this article go to

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