ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich today offered a blistering critique of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handling of oversight on harsh interrogation tactics, in a major escalation of partisan attacks being aimed at Pelosi.
In an interview with ABC News Radio’s Marcus Wilson, Gingrich, R-Ga., said Pelosi, D-Calif., “has lied to the House” in claiming that she was never briefed by the CIA about the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding and other harsh tactics.
"I think she has lied to the House, and I think that the House has an absolute obligation to open an inquiry, and I hope there will be a resolution to investigate her. And I think this is a big deal. I don't think the Speaker of the House can lie to the country on national security matters,” Gingrich said.
He continued: "I think this is the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I've seen in my lifetime."
"She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowist of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior."
"Speaker Pelosi's the big loser, because she either comes across as incompetent, or dishonest. Those are the only two defenses,” Gingrich said. “The fact is she either didn't do her job, or she did do her job and she's now afraid to tell the truth.”
Pelosi yesterday accused the CIA of giving her “inaccurate and incomplete information” on the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics by the Bush administration, saying that CIA officials are guilty of “misleading the Congress of the United States.”
Her recollection is contradicted by an intelligence report sent to Congress last week, which said Pelosi was briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques “that had been employed” in September 2002.
Gingrich also says that playing politics around anti-terror techniques could “get a lot of people killed.”
“This is really, really dangerous, and it is going to get a lot of people killed, if we don’t call a halt to it.”
To listen to ABC News Radio's full interview with Gingrich, click HERE.
ABC's Elizabeth Turrell and Steven Portnoy contributed to this report.