ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: The top Republican on the House intelligence committee told ABC News Friday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “doesn’t have any credibility” in her claim that she was never briefed by intelligence officials that waterboarding and other hard interrogation techniques had been employed.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., said an intelligence community report to Congress this week clearly demonstrates that Pelosi was told about “enhanced interrogation techniques” in a September 2002 briefing conducted by intelligence officials.
“The record now is clear: She was briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques,” Hoekstra said. “The fundamental point is, she knew there were enhanced interrogation techniques going on, and she did nothing to stop them.”
Asked about Pelosi’s contention that she was told only about the legal justification for harsh techniques, but not the actual use of those techniques, in the September 2002 briefing, Hoekstra said: “She doesn’t have any credibility. . . . I think what’s going on is, she clearly doesn’t want to be on record for ever having supported waterboarding.”
Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly fired back: “Once again, the Republicans are trying to politicize intelligence. Instead of irresponsible accusations, here are the facts: the Speaker has been absolutely consistent in her statements about the one briefing she received in September 2002."
Pelosi today issued a slightly broader statement describing her recollection of the briefing.
Though the report to Congress states that the briefing in question included a “description of the particular EITs that had been employed,” Pelosi maintains that she was not told that any techniques had actually been used. (Yesterday, her spokesman issued a statement stating only that past instances of waterboarding were not discussed.)
In a written statement, Pelosi said today: “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.’ ”
She goes on to acknowledge that her recollection of the meeting is different than the one provided by intelligence officials: “As reported in the press, a cover letter from CIA Director [Leon] Panetta accompanying the briefings memo released this week concedes that the descriptions provided by the CIA may not be accurate.”
Panetta’s letter states that, since the report was based only on notes taken by the intelligence officials who were in the room, “the Committee will have to determine whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened.”
Hoekstra said he has reviewed the notes from the meeting, though he cannot discuss their contents because they are classified.
He said, however, that he planned to send a letter today to Panetta and President Obama, asking that the notes be declassified.
Told about Pelosi’s contention that she was not told about waterboarding or other harsh tactics, Hoekstra pointed out that terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah -- who was discussed in the September 2002 briefing -- was waterboarded repeatedly the previous month.
“Now she’s to the point of accusing the CIA of lying to her,” Hoekstra said. “Her story keeps changing.”
Daly said that Pelosi's public statements have not changed, and added that she "is making no accusation against the CIA -- she referenced the director’s letter to Mr. Hoekstra in which he said that the descriptions provided by the CIA may not be accurate.”
In her statement, Pelosi also points out that -- as she has maintained -- she was only present for one of the more than 40 briefings for members of Congress on enhanced interrogation techniques.
The report makes clear that waterboarding was discussed in other briefings, though there’s no mention of it in the one-sentence description of the September 2002 briefing.