May 8th, 2009
04:05 PM ET
5 years ago

Pelosi disputes suggestion she was told waterboarding used

 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is disputing a CIA account sent to Congress that raises questions about her insistence she was never told explicitly that waterboarding had been used on terrorist suspects.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is disputing a CIA account sent to Congress that raises questions about her insistence she was never told explicitly that waterboarding had been used on terrorist suspects.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is disputing a CIA account sent to Congress that raises questions about her insistence she was never told explicitly that waterboarding had been used on terrorist suspects.

The CIA-prepared memo, provided to CNN by Republican sources, lists 40 briefings for members of Congress from September 2002 to March 2009. The first briefing on the list - on September 4, 2002 - was for then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Porter Goss and Pelosi, then the ranking Democrat on the committee.

The subject of the briefing is listed as EITs, or enhanced interrogation techniques, "including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of the particular EITs that had been employed."

CIA Director Leon Panetta, in cover letters sent with the memo to the House and Senate Intelligence committees, says the information "is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents MFR (memorandum for the record) completed at the time and notes that summarized the best recollections of those individuals. In the end, you and the committee will have to determine what actually happened."

Last month, Pelosi told reporters that she was told about the legal justification for the interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, but was never told the controversial technique had been used on any detainees.

"We were not - I repeat - were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used."

In a statement issued Friday, Pelosi said: "Of the 40 CIA briefings to Congress reported recently in the press, I was only briefed once, on September 4, 2002, as I have previously stated.

"As I said in my statement of December 9, 2007:

"'I was briefed on interrogation techniques the administration was considering using in the future. The administration advised that legal counsel for both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal.'

"I had no further briefings on the techniques.

"My understanding of the briefing I received is consistent with the description that CIA General Counsel Scott Muller provided to Congresswoman Jane Harman in a letter dated February 28, 2003, which states:

"'As we informed both you and the leadership of the Intelligence Committees last September, a number of executive branch lawyers including lawyers from the Department of Justice participated in the determination that, in the appropriate circumstances, the use of these techniques is fully consistent with U.S. law.'

"As reported in the press, a cover letter from CIA Director Panetta accompanying the briefings memo released this week concedes that the descriptions provided by the CIA may not be accurate."

However, a CIA spokesman said, "great care was taken with the list not to go beyond what the records themselves say."

A recently declassified Justice Department memo from 2005 said, "The CIA used the waterboard 'at least 83 times during August 2002' in the interrogation of Zubaydah." That was before the September Pelosi-Goss briefing.

Whether Pelosi knew that waterboarding had been used or was told only it had been approved for use, she did not raise any objection at the time about the technique.

Rep. Harman, D-California, who took over Pelosi's position on the Intelligence Committee, did write a letter in February 2003, shortly after she was briefed, raising objections about the legality of the enhanced interrogation techniques.

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, requested detailed information on congressional briefings about interrogation methods. The Senate and House Intelligence committees as well as
the leadership of the Senate and House were given copies of the CIA-produced
chronology.

–CNN Sr. Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report


Filed under: CIA • Jane Harman • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Chrissy, TX

    Isn't Pelosi the third in line if anything were to happen to the president and vice president? And she's swearing up and down she had no knowledge of the waterboarding? This piece of crap needs to be thrown out of office just like the lying president and idiot vice president!

    May 8, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. EJ

    typical – selective memory again.

    May 8, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  3. Kimberly

    Well, this is not about pelosi, this about cheney and bush, they should BOTH be in prison for violating our constitution, and so should rove and I guess pelosi if she condoned this, BUT she is denying it, bush and dick admitted to violating the constitution, so they should have the trial skipped and go STRAIGHT to jail!!

    May 8, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  4. A Proud Arrogant American

    Is a Pelosi lieing?

    It depends on what your definition if is, is....
    Where have I heard that before?

    May 8, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. yuri

    Now starts the tug of war and the GOP will declare itself a sore victor, shall we say? C'mon folks, get this torture tale over with and try to tackle other tantalizin' threats to the country, such as the terrible woes of treasury toothaches.

    May 8, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. fella from Chicago

    The photo of a liar!

    May 8, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  7. Jim El Paso Tx.

    I bet she's lying.....her mouth moved!

    May 8, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. Rick from b,ham alabama

    Personally I believe both parties knew what was going on, just like both parties supported the "Patriot Act" and may no mistake about it ladies and gentlemen that law will come back and bite a lot of american. They were all frighten into do things that went against everything american stands for, I feel they should all go to jail.

    May 8, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. Jon

    I hope all those voter in San Fran now realize what a lying hypocrate Pelosi is and votes her sorry you know what out of office in 2010.

    May 8, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  10. Tom Paine

    Give it up, Nancy. You're just a liar – and a poor one at that.

    May 8, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. liberialism.is.a.sickness

    What a joke. I say we should water-board the Speaker that will get us to the truth!

    What a freaking hypocrite just like all the dems that voted yes to go to war with Iraq, then turned around and opposed the war when it became politically favorable.

    May 8, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  12. 30m-PUMA for McCain

    Further proves you can't turst ANY party. I learned that the hard way after the Dems through Hillary Clinton under the bus during the primary season.

    May 8, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. crionics

    Let's see how she finagle herself out of this one.

    May 8, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. Bane Unreinen

    I think most people would agree that anyone involved in any way with these (obvious) war crimes must face the judicial system.

    If a person is innocent and the actions are legal, then there is nothing to fear. If the person committed a crime, they must be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

    imho, Pelosi's entire defense is bogus and she has seemed to be far to eager to ignore these crimes in the past.

    May 8, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. arithmetic is liberal

    A liar's a liar, and a torturer is a torturer. I don't care WHAT side of the aisle they sit on. St. Patrick (Leahy) needs to drive these torturing snakes from the Congress.

    May 8, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. DaBird

    Pelosi is a bold faced liar. Today, it was reported that she knew exactly what was happening. As an attorney, she should have asked if there were any questions. Playing dumb works for her well.

    May 8, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. Joe

    Now that republicans can no longer go after Barack, they are going after the speaker of the house.....

    You will see how they will be going after one member at a time~

    May 8, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. Jerry

    Much ado about NOTHING! And what we know is Wshington is STILL dominated by liars!

    May 8, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Kyle

    1st – I am independant and voted for Obama.

    Pelosi knew. Most of the high ranking Dems knew. They did nothing. They still don't really 'care' if it is done or not, they just want to paint it as a Republican issue and problem. One that Obama and the Dems are "changing" for the 'better'. Well, lets hope its for the better.

    Pelosi and most of the Dems and Republicans are the problem we have. This is all politics all the time. I am sick of it. The American public is sick of it. Starting doing something real and stop hiding behind the mistakes of the Bush Administration.

    May 8, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  20. Squigman

    Who cares if she was told or not. The fact remains, Cheney and Bush allowed it to happen. The republican party, would be well advised not to attempt to spread blame for their mistakes. Bush and Cheney, are the mistakes made by the republican(s).

    May 8, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. amb

    Pelosi is just a troublemaker. Yes, she does have "selective memory". She needs to be replaced as "Speaker" – she lied!

    May 8, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. Jim

    It would seem that Pelosi is scrambling for a bit of "plausible deniability" here. Wouldn't it be a shame for one of the Democratic Party's "loudest" voices to be a bit more subdued were the truth to come out that she actually DID have knowledge of the practice? Again, this is another exercise in her covering her backside politically. This is not surprising...

    May 8, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. jc

    Very shrewd political move by the President. Allow the CIA information to be made public knowing that it will implicate (or at least harm) your biggest challenger as leader of the Democratic party. Chicago style politics is dirty, but very effective. Well played.

    May 8, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Lisa

    Prosecute them ALL. If she knew she should have to answer for it too.

    May 8, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. Kevin in Ohio

    Jeff in Virgina....get real. Leon Panetta is head of the CIA now..... do you really believe he would release anything but the truth??????

    May 8, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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