In her news-making press conference yesterday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) laid out a timeline of what she knew and when she knew it. According to Pelosi, the one CIA briefing that she did receive in September 2002 specifically noted that waterboarding was not being used. Pelosi said that CIA reports indicating otherwise were untrue, and that she had been lied to in 2002.
REPORTER: So Madame Speaker, just to be clear, you’re accusing the CIA of lying to you in September of 2002?
PELOSI: Yes. Misleading the Congress of the United States.
Pelosi said that she wants the CIA to release detailed reports on her September 2002 briefing so that she can be vindicated. Dick Cheney is also requesting documents that apparently prove his truthfulness. In order to bolster her accusation that the CIA lied to her about waterboarding, Pelosi connected the CIA to Iraq:
at exactly the same time [as the September CIA briefing] the Bush adminstration was misleading the American people about the threat of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
She did admit, however, that in February 2003, she was told by an aide that top members of the House Intelligence Committee had been briefed on interrogation methods being used, including waterboarding. Technically, she couldn’t really do anything about it. So, the ranking Democratic member on the Intelligence Committee Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) ended up sending a letter to the CIA general counsel Scott Muller questioning the interrogation methods. ”That is the proper person to send the letter,” Pelosi said at the press conference. “My job (as minority leader) was to change the majority in Congress.”
In defending her good friend Pelosi, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said: “The CIA on this issue is in a defensive mode. Who knows whether what they’re saying is right or wrong? The CIA is not an agency that is above not telling the truth”
Another interesting quote from Pelosi that may offer a glimpse into the future:
Congress and the Administration must review the National Security Act of 1947 to determine if a larger number of Members of Congress should receive classified briefings so that information can be utilized for proper oversight and legislative activity without violating oaths of secrecy.
Shortly after Pelosi’s presser, John Boehner (R-OH) gave a response:
It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone in our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress. They come to the Hill to brief us because they’re required to under the law, and I don’t know what motivation they would have to mislead anyone. And I don’t believe, and don’t feel, that in the briefings I’ve had that I’ve been mislead at any one point in time.
UPDATE: CIA Director Leon Panetta says Pelosi was told the truth.