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. Pat F

    The hypocrit is busted, at last.

    May 8, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. David

    If obama wants to prosecute someone on torture, add PELOSI to the list.....looks like liberals accidentally fried one of their own. Hahahaha

    May 8, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Steve

    Hell, she doesn't know where she was last week!!!!!!!!

    May 8, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Markus

    The investigation of those responsible must proceed. And Nancy Pelosi must be included in the investigation. If she's innocent then she will be exonerated. Of course, with 40 briefings to congress and Pelosi having been the ranking democrat on the house intelligence committee you would have to conclude that she is grossly incompetent if she didn't know anything about the waterboarding. But I suspect she probably knew all about it. Let the investigation proceed please.

    May 8, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. sniffthese

    time to put granny in the home.

    May 8, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. mike

    She should be brought up on war crimes.

    May 8, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  7. bill b. from Stratford,Ct

    Don't believe nothing those lying Republicans are saying. Pelosi says they never told her it was torture and I believe her, b/c the Bush Admin. lied to the whole country about WMDs to go invade Iraq to take over Saddams oil. I'm pretty sure when she and others were in that meeting, they were lied to about torture. So now the Republicans are trying to say she knew so if the Democratics try to bring charges up on Bush and Chaney they can say, where's the charges on Pelosi. It's called SCARE TACTICS. Don't let them hoodwink you DEMs, bring charges on those CRIMINALS, BUSH, Chaney, Rove, Rumsfield, Rice, and all those others who had apart in those WAR CRIMES.

    May 8, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  8. W. Axl Rose

    "The CIA-prepared memo, provided to CNN by Republican sources,"

    What does this have to do with the fact that Pelosi LIED? Typical left wing CNN bias.

    May 8, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. Larry

    So, what she is saying is that despite the meetings where the technique was discussed, she didnt think they would use it? Thats like sitting through months of planning meetings for a business merger, and claiming that you didnt think the merger was actually going to happen. THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE MEETINGS!!!!This woman (the debate is stll out on that one) is CRAZY and DANGEROUS!

    May 8, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. joe smith

    she no doubt has a vague memory of the shianigins that took place in Baltimore under her families watch too.

    May 8, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. S Callahan

    Poor Ms P....the boys have their weapons out...time to put on the nails.
    Aside from that, it's more than likely you were told..but we know how politics is rush in a conversation so they can say they told you so..and it went by you so fast you had no idea what they said.
    Politics the same.

    May 8, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    Whatever. It's fairly moot. She couldnt' do anything about it even if she was told that they were actually doing it, because (a) she had no power to stop it and (b) bringing it to Congress while Bushtard and Cheneybot were in office and Congress was cont4rolled by GOPers would have beena surefire way to end up prosecuted for breaching national security.

    Can't have it both ways guys: you can't claim releasing the torture memos made us less safe and then lay blame on Pelosi for not speaking out about it. Of course, that's the GOP for ya: do as I say, not as I do, I want to have my cake and eat it too.

    May 8, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. sky

    I am not sure what she could HAVE done while the crooks and gangsters were in office. They had a strong hold on people. Example....anyone who has lived in an abusive household..........knows....the rules are different.... the entire structure they established was based on fear and retribution. Look how much housecleaning Obama has had to do in order to clean out the structure. It is like going into a crooked town......the whole group has to the poor men and women privates who were charged with abuse against the prisoners ......they were forced to participate under the parameters set up by their superiors and their own president......Do you really expect Nancy to have any real power when those crooks were in office.

    May 8, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. Southpa

    Terrorists will stop at nothing, so why should we? Without the waterboarding, Wave 2 of the attacks would have likely occurred. Thank goodness our leaders had the guts to do what was necessary to protect America. All these bleeding-heart liberals would be singing a different tune if they'd ever been the victim of terrorism.

    May 8, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Richard

    Speaker Pelosi, where does the buck stop? You're obviously engaging in selective amnesia, reminiscent of the backtracking you and your colleagues engaged in after authorising President Bush's Iraq war.

    May 8, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. Ellie, MD

    Republicans and the CIA are MESSING with the WRONG WOMAN in Congress. These SHADY Cheney traitors are trying to cover their asses, and their trying to use Nancy Pelosi as their scapegoat, but she's NOT HAVING IT!! Cheney was the MASTERMIND behind this whole TORTURE scheme. He was working behind George W. Bush's back the whole time. Dick Cheney KNOWS all the roads lead back to HIM!!! That's WHY Cheney is talking so much CRAP right now, he's throwing blame and everyone ELSE but him. Cheney is looking out for CHENEY!! Dick Cheney will sell his own mother, daughter and wife to save his traitor butt!!

    Nancy Pelosi is NOT going to take a back seat to the back-stabbing by the Republicans and CIA in their attempts to COVER THEIR SORRY BUTTS!! This lady is TOUGH as NAILS and she's going to SLAM the CIA big time. I don't blame her, I wouldn't take the CIA BS either. During said briefings members of congress were NOT allowed to take any notes, have any staff members, etc. Funny that huh? WHY is that? That's because the CIA is operating under SHADY-CHENEY'S AUTHORITY. Cheneys ran a Shady deal with this whole TORTURE/GITMO from day one.

    The CIA messed up when they hired outside help to design their interrogations process. The CIA has been nothing but fumbling around in the dark regarding their role and involvement of TORTURE at GITMO and Dick Cheney is trying to deflect the floodlights on him in the hopes Americans are TOO STUPID TO KNOW BETTER!!

    May 8, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. Nini

    The headline should be “Nancy Pelosi LIED”.

    What a disgrace, the first woman speaker of the house and she is turned out to be a manipulative LIER.

    Let’s have an investigation and get to the bottom of this.
    She character assassinated Bush for 8 years and all along she knew and didn’t object until it was out.

    If this is not hypocrisy at it’s worst I don’t know what is, oh, I know Guantanamo would be in the same level.

    Impeach Pelosi, impeach Pelosi, impeach Pelosi.

    May 8, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  18. Independent-Gurnee, IL


    May 8, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  19. phoenix86

    So either Pelosi is lying now, or she didn't understand what was being told to her then.

    In either case, certainly NOT the caliber of House Speaker that the US deserves.

    May 8, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. simon/Orlando

    Liar,liar, pants on fire.

    May 8, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. worriedmom

    Pelosi has no crediability in my book. Is she now saying the CIA is lying? To see her hymm and haw and stutter and carefully wording what she says, shows me that she knew all along, she has just gotten caught. I will love to see how the LIberals tackle this one. Prez. Obama sure did open up a can of worms on this one. I guess be careful of what you wish for. he was so intense on hacking Bush he forgot about his Speaker of the House. Nancy better go get some more Botox so you can keep a straight face while you continue to lie about this.

    May 8, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. Fendell Crews

    Pelosi is lying again.

    May 8, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. seebofubar

    Only in California could anyone like her get elected. How did she get elected speaker? Does she have photographs, nudge nudge you know what I mean.

    May 8, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  24. Simpliticus

    We need full disclosure about who knew when and if Nancy Pelosi is one of these who knew that should be disclosed. The GOP says that if the current administration investigates the George W. Bush administration, it will "investigate" the Clinton administration on matters of rendition and the like. Lets have full disclosure! If Pelosi knew, then deal with the cascading reprimands that would come forth. This is going forward AND backward as well, so the Obama administration can do both and not be casigated for this! As Bush once said. "Bring em on!"

    May 8, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  25. Kevin in NJ

    Of course she is disputing it... so she can have the moral authority to condemn Bush over it.

    May 8, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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