Nancy Pelosi has begun hitting back more than a week after a CIA leak showed that she knew about waterboarding in 2002, well before she objected to the enhanced-interrogation techniques employed by the Bush administration. After a series of changing explanations for the briefings, Pelosi accused the CIA of lying to her in the meetings, saying that her briefers told her that waterboarding was not being used on Abu Zubaydah:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today accused intelligence officials 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.”
In her first public comments on the matter since an intelligence report contradicted her recollections, Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters today that she was never told about the fact that waterboarding had been used on a terrorist suspect, even though terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah had been waterboarded a month before she was briefed on the subject in Sept. 2002.
“The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed,” Pelosi said, reading from a prepared statement. “Those briefing me in Sept. 2002 gave me inaccurate and incomplete information.”
“At the same time, the Bush administration was misleading the American people about the threats of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” she added. “The CIA was misleading the Congress. At the same time, the administration was misleading the Congress on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”
This new story has a couple of problems. Pelosi has already acknowledged that she knew about the EITs and their application at the time Jane Harman wrote her letter objecting to them, which she declined to sign. Pelosi never personally objected to the EITs until the techniques got exposed in 2005.
More to the point, people who attended the same and similar briefings in that period have already acknowledged publicly that the CIA told them explicitly of their use. Some briefings included videotapes of the interrogations, which have been destroyed and created their own scandal on Capitol Hill and Langley. And if the CIA really had lied to her in the briefings, why didn’t Pelosi start out with that explanation? In fact, why didn’t she mention that in 2005 when both the EITs and the briefings were made public? Coming four years later, this explanation lacks any kind of credibility.
She had better hope that more detailed briefing notes never get made public. Pelosi just dared the CIA to leak again, and I don’t think they’re likely to get intimidated by her at this point. Pelosi has a lot more to lose in this game than does Langley, especially the careerists most at risk in a witch hunt. Pelosi had better hope that the CIA has lost all the detailed briefing notes, because if they haven’t, they’ll be hitting a newstand within a few days.
Update: Karl Rove says she’s lying.
Update II: If you haven’t already, read Allahpundit’s excellent follow-up.