I stand with the Speaker

Washington is experiencing déjà vu.

Republicans play the politics of fear and many Democrats run for cover. Republicans play the politics of personal destruction, in this case attacking the Speaker, and many pundits parrot the spin and pretend it is news. Washington wages its war of words while troops in Afghanistan fight without everything they need to win.

ADVERTISEMENT
Regarding Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): She warned early of the dangers of the Iraq war and was proven to be right, while her loudest critics were proven to be wrong.

She warned that we should have been securing Afghanistan and killing the terrorists who attacked our nation, rather then invading Iraq with the destruction of our unity and the drain of our military that inevitably followed. Again, the Speaker was right and her strongest critics were wrong. After the Iraq war began, the Speaker warned that our troops and veterans were not receiving everything they needed, and from the beginning she advocated more support for getting what they required. She was proven to be right, and her loudest critics were proven to be wrong.

The Speaker warned of the moral and practical problems of torture very early in the game, and again, she was right, and her strongest critics were proven to be wrong.

The Speaker warned that Guantánamo was a snakepit of trouble, violating our values, staining our reputation, helping our enemies and planting seeds that would grow into the problems we have witnessed from then until today. Again, the Speaker was right and her strongest critics were wrong.

Had the Speaker’s advice been heeded by an administration that was so arrogant it refused to listen, or by Republicans in Congress who were so weak they marched in lockstep with a president they later pretended to disown, we would not have suffered such damage, from our credibility in the world to our military readiness, that continues to plague us today. Had the Speaker’s advice been heeded, we would not have gone to war in Iraq. We would be in far better shape in Afghanistan. Bin Laden might well be dead. We would not have had Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, which stained our reputation, divided our allies and offered a recruiting bonanza for terrorists.

Had the Speaker’s advice been heeded, we would not have committed illegal acts that create inadmissible evidence that prevents the guilty from being brought to justice and allowed some who were innocent, a fact not disputed, to be imprisoned and tortured.

Do I agree with every decision the Speaker has made? Of course not. But the irony, outrage and dishonesty of those who were proven so wrong, so often, launching partisan personal attacks against someone who was proven so right, so often, is a travesty that brings back memories of the darkest days of the previous president.

Regarding the CIA, let’s have an all-party truce and do what must be done to prevail in Afghanistan, kill the terrorists and protect the nation. Let’s have a Truth Commission or some other effective means of determining the facts of the past and our course for the future.

ADVERTISEMENT
From the moment I worked for Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and was one of the original writers of the CIA Identities Protection law, I saw firsthand the damage done to our security by the politicization of the agency, from any source, for any reason.

Let’s heed the advice of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and have full intelligence briefings to every member of the intelligence committees and get it right, this time, going forward.

Let’s close Guantánamo, carefully and correctly. Shame on anyone who plays the infamous politics of fear that was the trademark of the Bush years and is continued by the former vice president and his Republican allies today.

We are not a nation of cowards and wimps.

We are not a people who can be bullied and intimidated into fear by those who have done enough damage for a decade by promoting fear to drive America into profoundly unwise actions that have damaged our military, our morale, our unity, our credibility in the world and our mission to win the real war that must be won, not the phony wars of fear-mongering partisans or the pseudo-wars that dominate many in the media.

Let’s do the right thing.

I stand with the Speaker.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at brentbbi@webtv.net.