The cable news programs are full of indignation about Nancy Pelosi supposedly lying about, and thus insulting the CIA.

For those who have been vacationing on another planet, Speaker Pelosi last week claimed that the CIA had lied to her about whether they were using the method of torture called “waterboarding” on “war against terror” prisoners.

The way the corporate press is handling this situation is a worthy object of study for those who would understand how ideology is formed and perpetuated in this country.

The issue is this: It appears that the CIA has been torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and very likely secret sites around the world. To defend itself, the CIA claims that such torture is necessary because of the “ticking bomb” scenario in which they have to apply torture to get information about an imminent terrorist attack in which thousands could die.

Former Vice President Cheney, who is making a sort of second career out of his efforts to prove to the world that torture works, claimed that CIA records will demonstrate specific cases in which bloody mayhem was averted by the use of torture. Conveniently for both Cheney and itself, the CIA refuses to release this so called information, so the truth of Cheney’s statements can not be tested.

Now the information is coming out that certain individuals were waterboarded scores of times, not to find out the truth about some “ticking bomb”, but in order to get them to state that the 9-11 terrorist attacks were abetted by the regime of the late Saddam Hussein of Iraq (one of the people so tortured, Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi, has now supposedly committed suicide in a Libyan prison, sealing his lips forever).

In other words, they weren’t torturing people to get the truth out of them, but to force them to lie so as to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

There is a ring of truth to this, as it jibes with the famous “Downing Street Memorandum,’ a leaked top-secret British government document in which advisors to then Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that the U.S. government was set on war and was shaping and manipulating intelligence data in order to justify an attack. The various lies about weapons of mass destruction and supposed communications between Iraqi agents and Al Qaeda operatives were part of this, and it is possible that some of the torture was part of this strategy of deception, aimed largely at U.S. voters

If this turns out to be true, it reveals not only violations of U.S. and international law regarding torture, but a criminal assault on the democratic institutions of this country. The Bush administration would have been using illegal torture to create a deception to fool the American people so that it could start an illegal war. This certainly would merit criminal prosecutions of those involved, at all levels from Bush to the people who did the physical torturing.

But why should anybody be surprised? Since it evolved out of the old OSS after World War II, the CIA has been a lot more than an espionage agency. It has been the off-the-books, above the law dirty tricks weapon of successive administrations. It has been torturing people, or training police and military authorities of other countries to do so, for years. These activities have led to thousands of deaths of innocent people, and heads of foreign governments, all over the world.

This is what should be the focus of discussion on TV and radio, in the print media and on the internet. Instead, we now have the distraction of a huge uproar about Pelosi ‘insulting’ the CIA.

Instead of being a tiny part of the story, this has now become the whole story.