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

Pelosi disputes suggestion she was told waterboarding used

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" 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

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

Filed under: CIA • Jane Harman • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. BA in CA

    I honestly cannot recall the last good decision Ms. Pelosi has made, yet the media seems to always use its kids gloves on her. Why?

    There are plenty of competent Democrats in CA who could replace this woman – like some of the others have said, start portraying her as the inept, divisive politician she really is and let's get some new representation...soon!

    May 8, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. kansas mama

    I've voted democrat for the last 20+ years and I think she's either lying or incredibly stupid. What was the logical next event after the last administration said the techniques were legal?

    May 8, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  3. best sellers list

    She knew it,the fear was all over her face,Cheney made sure she knew so he could blackmail her.

    May 8, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  4. Susan May 8th, 2009 5:39 pm ET

    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!"

    I am a liberal, and NOT sick...and for your information, I think both examples are heinous crimes. If Obama did this, he should also be accountable. Waterboarding IS torture, killing of innocent people is never justified, and I do not recognize this country any more. We sure aren't Christian...the conservatives rant about abortion, but are quite content with torture, the death penalty, and the hundreds of thousand of innocents who have died in Iraq by our hand. You cannot have it both ways. You either value all life, or you're as much a barbarian as any terrorist.

    May 8, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  5. nancy blows

    10 out of 10 terrorists recommend voting democrat. Pelosi is nothing but a stupid lib that thinks these ragheads are our friends. Its ok to abort kids, but don't make a raghead uncomfortable. Friggin moron!

    Waterboarding is not torture. Cutting off fingers, electroshock therapy, and bloody beatings are torture.

    A terrorist won't talk? Bring on the water!

    Candya$$ed libs in power are the end of the USA.

    May 8, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  6. Liberal Democrats are Pathetic

    Of course she is lying. That is what Dems do best. It is fun watching the liberals like Sniffit on here who can't admit it and fall back on childish name calling because they don't have a good defense for her. Liberal Democrat arguments never make sense and it is definitely starting to fall apart on this one too. Nice try though.

    May 8, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  7. skyhawkdriver

    This woman is a bold faced liar..she knew exactly what was going on..just like harry reid knew..just like obama knew..just like it costs the taxpayers a hundred grand every weekend to fly her back and forth to california in a gulfstream 5..she reminds me of seahag from Popeye cartoons..To bad she didn't listen to the Pope

    May 9, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. tim

    What a capital C this woman is.

    May 9, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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