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. Alex

    If she knew, put her in the dock with Cheney, Rummy, Condi, and Dubya! We need to cut torture out like a cancer and if that involves some enablers with D's after their names (Pelosi, Feinstein, Rockefeller, Harman), so be it!

    May 8, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. revolution

    A lie is a lie and she got caught with Harry's foot in her mouth, and the CIA's foot up her ... !

    May 8, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. The Other Michael in Houston

    Ya' know what is funny, I do not normally agree with you so called conservatives but on this topic, I have too. She knew, all of them knew. They turned a blind out out of fear of being called soft on terror, which was the republican battle cry as a reason not to elect democrats. Please Nancy, you are full of it. Be careful what you ask for Nancy and Harry, don't throw stones when your house is made of glass. All you die hard libs quit making excuses for Nancy and Harry. They knew that torture was wrong and did nothing about it. Those 2 cowards would rather remain on their knees to get votes, then stand on their feet and fight for what's right..

    May 8, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. Jon in CA

    The lady doth protest too much!

    May 8, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. Mike in MN

    Pelosi is lying, period the end.

    May 8, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. whaley41

    You can tell when Ms. Pelosi lies.....her mouth moves!!

    May 8, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  7. revolution

    Blame all the illegals in CA who voted for her.
    We need an IQ test to vote.

    May 8, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. jude

    this is why we need term limits; its so many sandbaggers up on capital hill its sad. they are experts at manipulating the system. i believe that after 3 terms in office you should go. heck yes she knew about it torture. i just hope the president and his staff treats this woman w/kid gloves, but also with a long handled spoon. i just get bad ju ju about her. can anyone fresh and new run against her in california................. please. lets turn a new tide on these parties in DC. its time to hit the road jack.

    May 8, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. Larry from Kentucky

    Hey Nancy!
    Pants on fire!!

    May 8, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. Squealy

    Even tho I am a lib, if Pelosi knew about this and/or was compicit in any way, I want it to be brought out. Any congressional dems complicit I want to know and I want them treated just as any conservative who was involved should be. Don't assume all liberals will be easier on Pelosi than they would be on any Bush admin-er. Any congressional dem who would just lay back and allow the Bush administration to do this deserves to be brought up. These are deep principles (no torture) for liberal dems, and cleaning this up supercedes andy party loyalty as far as I am concerned. And, if you listen or watch the liberal pundits (Maddow, Olberman, et al.) you will see they have no qualms about pinning their icons to the mat when they think they are wrong. It is called "integrity".

    May 8, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  11. Chris in Va.

    I am a Democrat. Mrs. Pelosi is a liar and an embarrassment to our party.

    P.S. Why does she always look like she just soiled herself?

    May 8, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. Steve, Columbia SC

    Why is it Pelosi fails to remember things when crap hits the proverbial fan?

    Of course she was informed.........

    May 8, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  13. BILL, WI

    He said, She said. Everything that was used on terrorist detainees was taken from the US armed forces SERE training program. Maybe she did not think it was torture because our own military pilots and special operation forces underwent the same treatment in interrogation resistance training. Lets find out who was present at any meeting on interrogating any detainee and what was actually discussed. Openess, Transparency, Honesty lets find out who knew what.

    May 8, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. liberalism.is.a.sickness

    Sniffit – Is it ok to torture our citizens because they supported the stimulus package or abortion? I bet you probably think it is.
    ------------------------------
    I heard an interesting discussion about this last night. According to dems it is ok for Obama to order the bombing of a village in Pakistan where he knows that some civilians, women and children will be killed in order to kill high ranking Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. But to catch a high ranking Al-Qaeda member and submit him to water-boarding with a DR. standing by to gather information that could save lives is so wrong??? Please justify this?
    The truth is this is all political!

    May 8, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  15. Rick

    She's a liar, a cheat and a thief but, oh yeah, she's a democrat so that goes hand-in-hand.

    May 8, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  16. MBFLA

    Torture is a war crime. Even in the Reagan administration, the Dept of Justice prosecuted Texas Deputies for waterboarding! There will be accountability for these crimes. Any idiot who thinks waterboarding does not hurt should have it done to him/her. You would not last 10 seconds!

    May 8, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  17. Richard-Arkansas

    We don"t know what she was told since the Bushies were the ones giving out the information they wanted people to hear. We know how well that worked on Iraq having weapons of mass destruction.

    If she was told something she didn't like, going public with the information is a felony and you can be sure that they were reminded continually of that.

    May 8, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. liberalism.is.a.sickness

    I heard an interesting discussion about this last night. According to dems it is ok for Obama to order the bombing of a village in Pakistan where he knows that some civilians, women and children will be killed in order to kill high ranking Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. But to catch a high ranking Al-Qaeda member and submit him to water-boarding with a DR. standing by to gather information that could save lives is so wrong??? Please justify this?
    The truth is this is all political!

    Lets go moderate this already!

    May 8, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. WhoCares?

    I am a liberal Democrat but Pelosi needs to go.

    She is a black eye for Democrats during this Obama era. She is the opposite of everything he stands for.

    May 8, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. obamamama

    I think she's lying!!

    May 8, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Proud DHS radical

    If she had any honor, she would acknowledge the truth and resigned...fat chance of that happening.

    May 8, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. KC

    Pelosi was informed and she knows it. Her denial is a big, fat lie. She needs to be tossed out and replaced with someone who isn't as angry and bitter.

    May 8, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. cj

    Liberals love to always point out Conservative "hypocrates".. This is great. this witch rails against Bush policies for 6 years... calls for investigations.. and she KNEW all along...

    So funny, If this were Palin there would be 500 comments... But this will be excused in the end.. just wait.. kind of like Hillary entering Iraq under a hail of bullets... LOL...

    May 8, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. ronvan

    The whole problem here is that this country cannot keep secrets anymore! Our freedom of this & that, our right to know, all those do gooders that spout freedom. BS! There are things that WE the people do not need to know. I, personally, do not beleive in torture, but, when your enemy cuts off peoples heads, uses women & children to carry bombs, kills innocent people without hesitation, then someone please tell me how to deal with them? Releasing these
    EIT was wrong! Now look at what we have, everyone on the band wagon looking for hangings. If Pelosi was in the "need to know" circle then she knew what was going on. Lets go back to bush/cheney who, knowing it was illegal, intimidated others to change the laws to fit their agenda.

    May 8, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  25. IndependantForever

    Pelosi is a liar and she'd been caught time and time again. It's typical for Dems to continue to make excuses for their own. If the Dems dont clean house, they will be doomed to make the same mistakes the Repubs did. Power corrupts, and it seems that the Dems are going down as fast as you line them up.

    May 8, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
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