Intelligence Report: Pelosi Briefed on Use of Interrogation Tactics in Sept. ’02

By Lindsey Ellerson

May 7, 2009 6:02pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed on the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on terrorist suspect Abu Zubaydah in September 2002, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence’s office and obtained by ABC News. The report, submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and other Capitol Hill officials Wednesday, appears to contradict Pelosi’s statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding or other special interrogation tactics. Instead, she has said, she was told only that the Bush administration had legal opinions that would have supported the use of such techniques. The report details a Sept. 4, 2002 meeting between intelligence officials and Pelosi, then-House intelligence committee chairman Porter Goss, and two aides. At the time, Pelosi was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. The meeting is described as a “Briefing on EITs including use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah, background on authorities, and a description of particular EITs that had been employed.” EITs stand for “enhanced interrogation techniques,” a classification of special interrogation tactics that includes waterboarding. Pelosi, D-Calif., sharply disputed suggestions last month that she had been told about waterboarding having taken place. “In that or any other briefing . . . we were not, and I repeat, were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation techniques were used," Pelosi said at a news conference in April. "What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel . . . opinions that they could be used, but not that they would."  Brendan Daly, a Pelosi spokesman, said Pelosi’s recollection of the meeting is different than the way it is described in the report from the DNI’s office. “The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used,” Daly said. Daly pointed out that the report backs up Pelosi’s contention that she was briefed only once on “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Her name does not appear elsewhere in the report. "As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002," Daly said. At the briefing, Pelosi did not formally register objections to the interrogation techniques authorized by the Bush administration. President Obama has said he considers such techniques to be "torture." According to the interrogation memos released last month by the Obama administration, Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002. UPDATE: The report also details dozens of other meetings with members of Congress — though not with Pelosi present — where the use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques was described. The Senate intelligence committee’s chairman and ranking member, Bob Graham and Richard Shelby, were given a briefing similar to the one with Pelosi and Goss on Sept. 27, 2002, according to the report. On Feb. 4, 2003, a briefing on “enhanced interrogation techniques” for Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., revealed that interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri were taped. In addition, that briefing “described in considerable details” the techniques used, including “how the water board was used.” A similar briefing the following day included Goss and Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., who by that time had become the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, when Pelosi moved on to become minority leader. The report is accompanied by a letter from CIA Director Leon Panetta to intelligence committee leaders that describes the way it was compiled: “This letter presents the most thorough information we have on dates, locations, and names of all Members of Congress who were briefed by the CIA on enhanced interrogation techniques. This information, however, is drawn from the past files of the CIA and represents [memorandums 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 whether this information is an accurate summary of what actually happened. We can make the MFRs available at CIA for staff review.” UPDATE II (5/8/09): Speaker Pelosi’s statement Friday went slightly further, covering all interrogation techniques, not just waterboarding. And the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, tells me that the speaker has lost "credibility" on this subject.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus