Like the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not have to go through a background investigation in order to get a security clearance. This loophole in the law enables the president and members of Congress to automatically qualify for security clearances, even if they have controversial backgrounds and associations, by virtue of the fact that they get elected to high office in Washington, D.C.
In the case of Speaker Pelosi, who is second in the line of succession to the presidency after the vice president, there is increasing concern about whether she can be trusted with national security secrets. But the concern not only involves her unsubstantiated charges against the CIA over what officials told her about the treatment of terrorists, but her close personal relationship with pro-Castro Rep. Barbara Lee and the "progressive" Hallinan family of San Francisco, once under scrutiny by the California Senate Fact-finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities for their pro-Soviet propaganda efforts.
Pelosi used a Friday news conference to offer up other members of the House Democratic leadership as "human shields" to deflect questions from the press about the CIA controversy. They droned on about the liberal legislative agenda.
At the very end of the news conference, as Pelosi was trying to leave the podium and had already issued an edict that she didn't have anything more to say about the CIA matter, a reporter tried to ask a question about Rep. Steve King's intention to introduce a resolution asking the House to suspend Pelosi's security clearance until the controversy is resolved. The reporter asked, "And were you aware that Steve King is asking for your security clearance to be revoked?" But Pelosi walked away without commenting.
With the help of the mainstream media, Pelosi is obviously hoping that she can stonewall further inquiry. On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Washington Post liberal columnist Eugene Robinson, a follower of the Democratic Party line, declared that he wasn't sure that she was "in such terrible political danger" and that "People underestimate Nancy Pelosi sometimes as a politician."
Pelosi the politician is clearly depending on the press to stop asking questions.
However, since Pelosi and other elected officials don't have to go through background investigations, it is the job of the media to perform this function. In the case of Pelosi, it is long overdue.
San Francisco Democrat
Pelosi has represented the city of San Francisco, perhaps the most liberal in the nation, since 1987, and is a very close friend of Rep. Barbara Lee, who represents neighboring Oakland and Berkeley, California, and is the most vocal apologist for Communist Cuba in Congress today. Lee, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, recently led a delegation to Cuba to meet with the Castro brothers to discuss normalization of relations. But she paid no attention to political dissidents or political prisoners being held on the communist island.
Lee, who calls Pelosi "a magnificent woman" and "one of California's greatest representatives," began her career in the California state legislature as a secret member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, a spin-off from the Communist Party. As a member of the staff of Rep. Ron Dellums, Lee was shown to have been collaborating with communist officials on the island of Grenada, according to documents captured after the liberation of that island nation. These revelations have not hurt Lee's standing with Pelosi and other "progressives." Indeed, Lee also served as the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
But even more interesting than the Barbara Lee connection is Pelosi's long-time friendship and association with Vincent and Vivian Hallinan, one of the most radical left-wing families in San Francisco over the course of five decades.
Pelosi hailed them as "one of San Francisco's great Irish families" in a March 17, 1999, statement, after the passing of Vivian Hallinan. "Vivian was a pioneer, a mentor and a leader," Pelosi said. "Our community was blessed by her presence and will long remember her many significant contributions to improving society. I will miss my friend, Vivian."
Notice use of the term "mentor."
Pelosi called Vivian Hallinan, who openly held "socialist" views, a "pioneer" in "a wide range of progressive causes."
But these causes included support for communists in Central America during the 1980s, when Soviet- and Cuban-backed forces were subverting Central America through violence and terrorism and fighting for control of the region.
Indeed, Pelosi paid tribute to Vivian Hallinan by inserting into the Congressional Record an article saying that she had "opposed U.S. policy in Central America" under President Reagan, had "befriended Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's [Communist] Sandinista leader," and had met with Cuban dictator Castro.
"She was a role model for many of us," Pelosi said. "If Vincent was the lion, Vivian was the lioness."
"My mother and Nancy were pretty close," acknowledges Conn Hallinan, one of their sons.
The names of the Hallinans, including some of their sons, are included in the annual volumes of the California State Senate Fact-Finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities. The subcommittee was a well-regarded investigative body which examined not only communist activities in California but right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society and the Minutemen.
In the case of the Hallinans, there was a lot to examine. Vincent Hallinan, a lawyer who died in 1992, was a founding member of the San Francisco chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, officially designated a front of the Communist Party, and defended secret Communist Party member and labor leader Harry Bridges.
In addition, he was a self-described "roaring atheist" who specialized in attacks on the Catholic Church. In one case, according to the New York Times, he "sued the Roman Catholic Church for fraud, demanding that it prove the existence of heaven and hell."
Vincent Hallinan also ran for president on the ticket of the Progressive Party, "a creature of the Communist apparatus, and completely dominated by the Communist Party from start to finish," the subcommittee said.
A 1961 subcommittee report says that Vincent Hallinan traveled to the Soviet Union with his wife to vouch for the legitimacy of the communist show trial of Francis Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot shot down over the Soviet Union. Powers' mission had been to document the Soviet missile build-up. It adds, "[Vincent] Hallinan's glowing accounts of the Soviet Union and favorable comments concerning the fairness accorded Powers at his trial were sold in great quantity by the Communist Book Stores both in San Francisco and in Los Angeles."
A 1953 edition of the report states that Vincent Hallinan was a participant in a meeting of the Committee to Secure Justice in the Rosenberg Case, a "Communist front organization." The Rosenbergs were communists executed for committing atomic espionage against the United States on behalf of the Soviet Union.
A wealthy woman, Vivian Hallinan had contributed financially to one of Pelosi's campaigns. Her only other political contributions on the federal level, as recorded by the Federal Election Commission, went to Senator Barbara Boxer and Reps. Barbara Lee and Ronald V. Dellums.
The "Progressive Champion"
Despite her pro-communist record, Lee will be honored as a "progressive champion" at the June 2 "awards gala" sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future, perhaps the largest "progressive" group in the U.S. The gala, held in conjunction with a conference, is being chaired by the AFL-CIO, whose president, John Sweeney, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, is also being honored; the Service Employees International Union; the National Education Association; and Hollywood producer Norman Lear, among others.
Fenton Communications, the public relations firm which represented George Soros during his attempt to buy the White House in 2004, is one of several groups and individuals on the Gala Awards host committee.
At the group's 2006 conference, Pelosi was a featured attraction, telling the assembled "progressives" that if Democrats took control of Congress and made her speaker that Democrats would "make the most corrupt, closed Congress in history the most open and honest Congress in history."
On Friday, however, Pelosi tried desperately to avoid being open and honest about her charges against the CIA.
Time to Drop the Matter
One reporter did note that after Pelosi charged that she had been misled by the CIA, Republican House Leader John Boehner had said that she needed to produce the evidence or apologize, and that CIA director Leon Panetta has said the CIA was not in the practice of misleading Congress.
Pelosi replied, "I have made the statement that I'm going to make on this. I don't have anything more to say about it. I stand by my comments. And what we are doing is staying on our course and not be distracted from it in this distractive mode. We're going forward in a bipartisan way for jobs, health care, and energy for our country. And on the subject that you asked, I've made the statement that I'm going to make. I won't have anything more to that about it."
Pressed for further explanation, she reiterated, "I won't have anything more to say about it."
The New York Times thought the performance was impressive, declaring that Pelosi had stuck to the "script" and had not succumbed to "the impatient media horde."
This is a signal to the rest of the press that they should drop the matter.