May 8th, 2009
04:05 PM ET
11 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

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

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

    UGH! Someone wish away Pelosi!! And take Harry with you!!

    May 8, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Erik S.

    Hey, let's have that investigation now why don't we? You wonder why this liar of a woman took impeachment off the table? She KNEW. I have no idea why the Democrats pushed this so far knowing that they were involved as deep as anyone in the Bush Administration, AND they were updated and they had no objections, I guess they DO have selective memory when it comes to the politics of war, we heard the same thing about Iraq as well.

    May 8, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Robin

    It is a bold faced lie. She knew.

    May 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. Barbara Independent in NY

    OMG–I don't care if she knew about waterboarding or not. The buck stopped with President Bush! No one was going to stop the Bush/Cheney agenda.

    May 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Proud DHS radical

    Well let's waterboard Pelosi and get the truth out of her. Looks like she's trying to save her political hide now, it would be the Democrats gain to get rid of her.

    May 8, 2009 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  6. Kevin in Ohio

    It is clear..... Nancy Pelosi is a LIAR.

    May 8, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Ray,Calif

    Either way Pelosi is either lying or incompetent ? Maybe she was sleeping during the meeting..or maybe she needs to get a physical? She might be displaying the first signs of Alzheimer's ?

    May 8, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. ray ray

    Pelosi is a liar.

    May 8, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. Jeff in Virginia

    I normally wouldn't defend Nancy Pelosi further than I can spit, but this is just absurd.

    Bush's political hacks in the CIA wrote down their "recollections" that are now being used to implicate Pelosi.

    If that isn't the fox guarding the hen-house, I don't know what is.

    May 8, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. NW

    Who voted for this idiot? You should have your voting rights revoked. She needs to be perp walked for so many abuses that go beyond her actual lies. She is a quinessential incompetent politician...if her lips are moving she is lying. Don't just impeach her, send her to jail.

    If she knew, she should shut up about the witch hunt of Bush administration. If she didn't know, then WHY NOT? Wouldn't that be considered negligent in her duties. She is wrong any way you look at it and needs to be brought up on ethics charges and breaking the law.

    May 8, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. cj

    Hummm, how is it possible for her to deny something that she singed off on. BTW waterborading not torture, for chrimny sakes it doesn't even hurt.

    May 8, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Ahh, the old Bill Clinton defense. And she learned he lessons well.

    May 8, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Kelby In Houston, TX

    We need witnesses. Who else was there? Who can testify as to what was said during the course of these meetings? Was somebody taking minutes? Eric Hold should be bringing charges against the Bush Admin for their various crimes

    May 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. Obama Victim

    well of course they told her about waterboarding...................she is about as phony as all that botox in her face

    May 8, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Kel

    Umm yeah sure Nancy.
    Next she'll say, water boarding, wait I thought that was like wake boarding, they were taking these guys out on the lake for recreation.

    May 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. tiniolives

    Does she seriously expect anyone to believe she didn't know or anyone on the panel didn't know. . .maybe not specific details but there was something going on . . come on. How stupid does she think the American Public is. . .and for the public how can you condem our government for doing what they need to do to protect us. They are simply using the same techniques we use to train our military.

    May 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  17. rojamm

    She is a thorn in the side of the democratic party. California, please oust her. She has a Judge Judy vibe that totally rubs me the wrong way.

    May 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. Cali J

    Where's the outrage?

    SF Libs, any comment on this?

    May 8, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Terry

    I am a liberal who voted for Obama. I would love to see another Speaker of the House. I do not trust Pelosi's judgment or her word.

    May 8, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  20. jean

    WOW another politician trying to protect thier own hide by lying. All of this false outrage by democrats about so many things they actually knew about and/or endorsed is just more of the same deceit. Oh well – it is what we have come to expect from the politicians America keeps voting in – no consequences means they think it is okay to continue the lies and deceit. Vote them ALL out now and maybe, just maybe, we'll see some honesty and integrity come back to politics where the American people are the ones politicians try to protect as opposed to themselves and thier positions.

    May 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. Mississippi Mike

    It's okay that we torture terrorists. They sign up for their terrorist role hoping to die in battle. We have no moral obligation to be civil to people who have every intention of destroying us physically and emotionally.

    Pelosi is lying about this, but then again, what's new? She subscribes to the philosophy of moral relativsm which basically means that whatever you do is just fine and if someone doesn't like it, they can cry about it.

    May 8, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Thomas

    Nancy knew. It isn't a crime and her voters will blindly re-elect her anyway. Come on Nan, admit it. You knew. Did you honestly think the CIA doesn't keep records of briefings? The CIA? I thought you had to be smart to be in the Senate..

    May 8, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  23. Bob in Pa

    I'd like to quote my 4 year old for Ms Nancy...
    "Liar Liar, Pants on Fire!"

    May 8, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. jeff

    Just call her a liar
    Just like Dodd is a liar
    Why can't reporters just ask didn't you LIE

    May 8, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. HonestMistake

    Who are you going to believe – the CIA? the other members of Congress in the room with her at the time? How does this woman keep getting re-elected?

    May 8, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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