Pelosi Should Apologize to CIA, Says Senate Intelligence Committee's Vice Chairman
May 19, 2009 - 5:11 PMThe top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to apologize to CIA officials for saying last week that the agency misled her about waterboarding and that it misleads Congress "all the time."
Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.) said he has "no doubt" that the CIA is telling the truth about what it told Pelosi about the interrogation of al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah.
“Speaker Pelosi should apologize to the CIA for calling them liars to protect her own hide,” Bond told CNSNews.com in a written statement Tuesday. “It’s up to Speaker Pelosi to come clean and set the record straight.”
In response to written questions from CNSNews.com, Bond said he did not believe the speaker, but he did not say whether he thinks she should resign if she is not telling the truth.
At a press conference last Thursday, Pelosi insisted the CIA did not tell her in a September 2002 briefing that it had used enhanced interrogation techniques that included waterboarding against the al Qaeda terrorist Abu Zubaydah.
When pressed by a reporter whether the CIA lied to her at that first briefing in 2002, Pelosi said the agency was guilty of “misleading the Congress of the United States.”
“They mislead us all the time,” she said. When a reporter then asked, “So they [CIA] lied to you?” Pelosi said, “Yeah, they did. They misrepresented every step of the way. And they don't want that focus on them, so they try to turn the attention on us.”
In a prepared statement she read at last Thursday’s press conference, Pelosi also said: “The CIA briefed me only once on some enhanced interrogation techniques, in September 2002, in my capacity as Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“I was informed then that Department of Justice opinions had concluded that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques was legal. The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed,” she said.
Pelosi continued: “Five months later, in February 2003, a member of my staff informed me that the Republican chairman and new Democratic Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee had been briefed about the use of certain techniques which had been the subject of earlier legal opinions.”
In response to Pelosi’s claims about the CIA misleading her and Congress, CIA Director Leon Panetta issued a statement to the CIA staff last Friday.
It, in part read: “The political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress. … Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values.
“As the Agency indicated previously in response to congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing ‘the enhanced techniques that had been employed.’ Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened,” he added.
Bond said he believes the CIA director.
“Speaker Pelosi’s accusations against our terror-fighters are irresponsible and not backed up by the CIA’s record,” Bond said. “The record shows Speaker Pelosi was briefed on the techniques that were used on terrorist Abu Zubyadah and we know that the techniques used included waterboarding. In fact, the members reportedly asked detailed questions, so it seems Pelosi fully understood the program.”
Bond also said Pelosi’s statements about what the CIA told her do not make sense.
“It’s ridiculous to think CIA officers made a special trip to the Hill to brief Congress days after waterboarding Zubaydah, but briefed them only that the techniques were legal and that they had used all of them except waterboarding--that just doesn’t make sense,” said Bond. “The bottom line is that the CIA doesn’t hold these briefings to tell you what they're NOT doing.”
Bond does not think there should be an investigation into America’s intelligence officers based on the information he has seen.
“I’ve seen the briefing memos, and I have no doubt who is telling the truth in this case,” Bond said. “The Senate Intelligence Committee takes seriously our job of strong oversight of the intelligence community, which is why we are conducting a bipartisan review of the CIA’s terrorist interrogation program.
“During our investigation we will be looking into whether the CIA accurately described the program to other parts of the U.S. government, including to the Senate Intelligence Committee,” said Bond. “I think our findings will shed light on the House briefings as well. The last thing we need is a witch-hunt that targets the terror-fighters who have kept us safe from attack since 9/11.”