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. Anyone who supported Bush is a troublemaker

    Bush had eight years starting in 2000. In fact Bush had a rubber stamp congress that did not let the American people have a respectable dialog on the war against "Saddam in Iraq". The war in Iraq should of been a war against "Al Queda terror" instead our sons and daughters got involved in war that made most of the Muslim world and Europe against America. It would of been better to remove Saddam thru the CIA maybe thru assassination. This could of prevented 4000 American service men and women from dying on a foreign land.
    The economy went the same way. Bush Administration was so convinced that nothing was wrong, that it did nothing to monitor it . This advice from conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Phil Graham, Karl Rove had more of Bush's ear than Laura Bush.

    Nancy Pelosi is a true American hero! Nancy stopped the democrats talk on impeaching Bush over 2 years ago. And this is not going to be a perfect stimulus package, lucky for you conservatives. But the conservative, right wingers, or extremists, neo-con philosophy "trickle down economics" does not work.

    May 8, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. No More Incumbents

    It's not her fault! She thought they were surfing!

    May 8, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. cher

    lets put pelosi out and reid....pelosi knew ...reid knew...who cares the lying b-ch...lets put term limits who the hell can change paties so he can get re-elected again after being in office for 29 years...he is a republican no-matter what he says he is....

    May 8, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  4. gary davis

    still finger pointing .. we should learn our lessons from the past not repeat the ones that didn't work or were not legal. most important thing for this country and the world is . try using common sense and not great and power to make desisions that can end up in a negative solution. we are on the threash hold of a new begining of rebuilding our relations all over the world and try to bring peace and stubility to the world . lets focus on new technology and humanity and returning our planet to a stable breathable eatable recyclable place to live.
    life is short wake up every morning and put a smle on your face and break the habits of cruel and selfish ideals.
    no one in the world is perfect ,but we can try to change are world into a safe productive planet

    May 8, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  5. Lotta Muni

    Is it just me or does every photo of Nancy Pelosi make you think of that one aunt you couldn't stand to kiss. She has terminal cooties and should be impeached for it.

    May 8, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  6. cher

    why does pelosi have control over our states she does nothing for us only california....put her out and all the other lying congress..

    May 8, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Trebuchet

    And she's 3rd in line to the presidency....jeez that's just great. Between her & Hillary, I feel so safe at night.....where are Elmer Fudd & Sylvester when you need them....And before anyone starts waling away on me...I'm a woman & voted Democrat most of my adult life...these people are just an embarrassment

    May 8, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. airborne ranger

    I have to say I'm surprised at the majority of comments here on a CNN left wing news source. Someone is not going to be re-elected. It is hard to believe out of all those millions of sperm, she swam the fastest.

    Rangers Lead The Way!

    May 8, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Ray Fisher

    Maybe Georgie told her Waterboarding was off the table?? What a pittyful Speaker!!!

    May 8, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Stacy

    Yes, Pelosi is a liar.

    Seems odd she claims she is against waterboarding terrorists but would be okay with aborting them before birth.

    May 8, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. RRR

    The gist of this article is: The CIA-prepared memo, provided to CNN by "Republican sources."

    The briefing was arranged then by REPUBLICANS for a REPUBLICAN President who wanted to torture. At that time, no one could question Bush about anything, the GOP used 9/11 as an excuse for EVERYTHING.

    Finally, Cheney has been saying for weeks he LIKES how can you get down on Pelosi at all for this? Again, the GOP leaks info they think will make Dems look bad, but it only makes Bush and Cheney look WORSE. Clean your own house, GOP.

    May 8, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. dotjet

    I just find it incredibly ironic that all of the minority-conservative-right-wing-republicans are now screaming at the top of their lungs about what a liar Nancy Pelosi is and how she should be impeached. Aren't you the same people who have been screaming that Bush and his pals did nothing wrong when they tortured these people??? Then, by the same token, doesn't it stand to reason that Nancy Pelosi did nothing wrong if she knew and didn't say anything? You can't have it both ways folks . . . sorry.

    I say . . . investigate, investigate, investigate. If Ms. Pelosi is found to have broken laws then she should be prosecuted along with all the rest. I'm willing to see where the chips fall . . . .are the rest of you "Bushies"?

    May 8, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  13. lovable liberal

    Pelosi should have objected. She's not blameless.

    But her culpability as someone who knew what evil the Bushists were contemplating and did nothing is not close to the culpability of the Bushists who conceived that evil, rationalized it with lies, and did it.

    The conservatives here fail to understand proportionality, as usual.

    May 8, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    Bill B. from Stratford CT@ Calm down Obama man and smoke another joint.

    May 8, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Andrew, Buffalo NY

    She has been a problem to this country longer than Bush! The people of San Fran have to be the dumbest people in the nation to keep voting this witch into office!

    Shouldn't she be flying around in some government jet? Any Dem who believes in her is a lost cause!

    May 8, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Ron Ft. Myers

    Hey Stupidity

    You really are stupid because you miss the entire point. This issue with "Nancy" has nothing to do with Bush or Cheney, it is about her not telling the truth as to what she was or was not told.

    May 8, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. philo beto

    i wish cnn would look at this page and report on how average america is responding instead of sticking up for her

    May 8, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. Don

    Give me a break…I had more torture as a fraternity pledge during Hellweek. Does that give me the right to charge my frat president with war crimes?

    Nancy, here’s your defense… "I don't recall being briefed. I think I was getting an injection that day, but even if I was there, I can't remember it. And even if I could remember it, botox has rendered me unable to process the information. But thank god, I look 5 years younger!"

    May 8, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. John from LA

    Panic Pelosi!!!-She NEEDS to GO!!!!-remember people-me thinks she protests toooooo much!!!-Just like Jesse Jackson Jr.-with Blago-just like Clinton-"I did not have sexual relations with that woman"-and just like Tricky Dick-"I'm not a Crook"

    All in DC need to be ousted-TERM LIMITS-starting with Pelosi!!!

    May 8, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. crazy4obama

    This is a right-wing, hillbilly, redneck, uneducated, homophobia conspiracy. Whoever provided this information had to have voted for Bush and gre up in a trailer park...

    May 8, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. JLO

    From what you read here, You can see why our country is in trouble.

    May 8, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    @ Mississippi Mike, who said "We have no moral obligation to be civil to people who have every intention of destroying us physically and emotionally. "

    And as lovely as that sounds, what happens when the scrutiny gets turned on you because the standard is so wishy-washy? Hmmm? Is it ok to torture our citizens because they supported the stimulus package or abortion? I bet you probably think it is.

    May 8, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. Rickymo

    The right wing GOP party of no will look to scapegoat anything and anyone. If she did she just looks silly but Bush and Cheney were the ultimate "deciders" who should be held accountable. They should be held for crimes against humanity for all they did.

    May 8, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. myohmyohmy

    To all of you who cannot quit bashing Bush and Cheney.......get over it. I may not have agreed with everything that was said or done.....but, I can thank God every day that since 9/11 there has been no other attacks in our country. If waterboarding is not against the Geneva Convention, then how in the world can you call it torture? As for Pelosi.........who ever voted her in I hope votes her back out. It is funny that she can speak out both sides of her mouth and there are so many idiots out there that make excuse, after excuse for her. If it was all Cheney and Bush then why has Cheney been screaming to release more memos? Obviously if he had something to hide he would be screaming to not release any more........I think its kind of funny that at first they were all gung ho to expose the "torture" approved by previous administration until they realized of ours is in now the decision is being made to not release any more.......hmmm if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, probably is a duck.............

    May 8, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  25. JLO

    From what you read in the comments you can see why our country is in trouble. Remarks of some are close to hate.

    May 8, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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