July 8th, 2009
10:30 PM ET
5 years ago

House Democrats: Panetta testified that CIA misled Congress

Panetta told Congress the CIA misled lawmakers since 2001, according to a letter to the agency head.
Panetta told Congress the CIA misled lawmakers since 2001, according to a letter to the agency head.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – CIA Director Leon Panetta recently testified to Congress that the agency concealed information and misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001, according to a letter from seven House Democrats to Panetta made public Wednesday.

The letter to Panetta, dated June 26, was published on the Web site of Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California.

"Recently you testified that you have determined that top CIA officials have concealed significant actions from all members of Congress, and misled members for a number of years from 2001 to this week," said the letter, signed by Eshoo and six other House Democrats - Reps. John Tierney of Massachusetts, Mike Thompson of California, Rush Holt of New Jersey, Alcee Hastings of Florida, Adam Smith of Washington and Janice Schakowsky of Illinois.

The letter contained no details about what information the CIA officials allegedly concealed, or how they purportedly misled members of Congress.

On May 15, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the CIA of misleading Congress in a secret briefing she received in 2002. Pelosi said the CIA failed to inform her and others at the briefing about harsh interrogation techniques being used on terrorism suspects.

The CIA responded that Pelosi was told about the harsh techniques, including waterboarding, at the classified 2002 briefing.

However, the June 26 letter from the seven House Democrats noted that Panetta told CIA employees in a letter dated May 15 - in response to the Pelosi allegation - that it was not CIA policy to mislead Congress.

"Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and values," the House Democrats quoted Panetta's letter as saying.

The letter from the House Democrats asked Panetta to correct his May 15 statement "in light of your testimony."

Asked about the Democrats' letter, CIA spokesman George Little said Panetta "stands by his May 15 statement."

"This agency and this director believe it is vital to keep the Congress fully and currently informed. Director Panetta's actions back that up," Little said in a statement. "As the letter from these … representatives notes, it was the CIA itself that took the initiative to notify the oversight committees."

The Democrats' letter became public the night before the House is scheduled to vote on an intelligence spending measure that includes a provision to expand the number of House and Senate members privy to the kind of secret briefing that Pelosi received.

The White House opposes the provision to expand the number of briefing participants from the current eight to 40 members of Congress.

A White House memo warned that President Barack Obama's senior advisers would recommend a veto of the bill if it contained the expanded briefing provision.

– CNN's Deirdre Walsh, Bob Kovach and Pam Benson contributed to this report.


Filed under: CIA • Congress • Leon Panetta
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Michael Arnaud

    Right now, eight House and Senate members are the ONLY members of Congress totally briefed on the workings of the CIA.
    Now Congress wants to make it FORTY members?! Well, we know how much Congress can keep a secret, YEAAH RIIGHT!!!! Why not just call all the news outlets and tell the world what the CIA is planning. Then we wouldn't have to have all the press conferences from all those members of Congress. Can anybody NOT see how this would be a REALLY BAD IDEA?!

    July 9, 2009 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  2. Limbaugh is a liberal

    And this surprises anyone how?

    July 9, 2009 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  3. Peter E

    Let's give them a Medal of Freedom! Or at least that's the practice Bush Jr. established when he gave the medal to George Tenet for criminal incompetence that led us war!

    July 9, 2009 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  4. Beverly in NC

    So, Nancy Pelosi was telling the truth like we knew she was!

    The CIA misled everyone under direct orders from Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld so they could find justification , where there was none, to attack Iraq. Iraq was a complete lie and our soldiers died pointlessly in a fraudulent war. Lying to Congress is an impeachable offense so why did the Republicans not act ethically and impeach Bush and Cheney when they learned they had been lied to, that these criminals had lied to the UN and had lied to the American people??? They tripped all over themselves to impeach Clinton about an affair. This was about invading a sovereign nation and murdering their innocent citizens and wasting the lives of thousands and thousands of our own troops. Republicans commit acts of sexual misconduct all the time. What a group of hateful hypocrites!!

    PELOSI WAS RIGHT AND THE REPUBLICANS NEED TO APOLOGIZE TO HER FOR THEIR HATEFUL REMARKS AND NASTY TREATMENT OF HER. (Of course we know they won't because they have no integrity, character, or ethics)

    July 9, 2009 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  5. mike

    Straight from Nancy Pelosi's playbook. What a joke, just like this administration. Do these IDIOTS in Congress actually believe we will fall for this?

    July 9, 2009 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  6. mjm

    CIA spokesman George Little told the Washington Independent late Wednesday, said the claim that Panetta admitted his agency has misled Congress is “completely wrong.” He added, “Director Panetta stands by his May 15 statement.”

    CNN, you left this part out. In fact, Panetta never testified to Congress that the CIA misled congress. He stated the exact opposite. The seven House Democrats got it wrong.

    Maybe they should be focusing on the economy instead of something that happened in 2001.

    July 9, 2009 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  7. Randall in Torrance - Desert Storm Veteran

    This is Standard Operating Procedures for the way the Bush Administration pressured the CIA and others to lie to Congress and Americans. This why Republicans CANNOT be trusted and should be driven from office by voting in Democrats in their place. It defies all reason why born again Christians, right-wingers, etc., still look up to these fools as Saints. I am a born again Christian and can't see any logic in anything the GOP does other than the fact that they are trying to create the United Theocratic States of America. God bless Obama and Biden now and in their second term. Together they have proven they have more wisdom and far superior judgement than all the collective attributes of every Republican in U.S. history combined. This is an empirical fact.

    July 9, 2009 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  8. Ivan

    Anyone who believes that the CIA does not lie to Congress, then they are fools.

    July 9, 2009 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  9. Tatianna

    When will these seven dems write a letter to Holder, asking him to investigate whether or not OBAMAS CIA DIRECTOR, PANETTA IS MISLEADING AND LYING TO CONGRESS? Bush admin kept us safe after the 9/11 attacks, but we must thank Pelosi for her role in helping him. By keeping her mouth shut on the waterboarding that she was briefed on, she helped Bush admin, our military and CIA keep us safe for many years.

    July 9, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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