Wire: Top Pelosi Aide Learned of Waterboarding Use in 2003
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2009 -- Newswires reported today that a top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday.
The Washington Post reported that Pelosi has insisted that she was not directly briefed by Bush administration officials that the practice was being actively employed. But Michael Sheehy, a top Pelosi aide, was present for a classified briefing that included Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, at which agency officials discussed the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida.
The Washington Post noted the following details:
A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy. Pelosi herself acknowledged in a December 2007 statement that she was aware that Harman had learned of the waterboarding and had objected in a letter to the CIA's top counsel.A fierce debate was sparked three weeks ago by the Obama administration's release of Bush-era Justice Department memos that expanded the legal guidelines for CIA agents interrogating alleged al-Qaeda operatives.
"It was my understanding at that time that Congresswoman Harman filed a letter in early 2003 to the CIA to protest the use of such techniques, a protest with which I concurred," Pelosi said in the Dec. 9, 2007, statement.
The new documents released to Congress by the CIA on Thursday stated that Pelosi was briefed on the "use of" harsh interrogation techniques in September 2002, although the documents do not state that waterboarding was mentioned.
The Washington Post said the absence of any description in the new documents of her being briefed on waterboarding has become a critical distinction for Pelosi. She has said that briefers discussed waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques as legal options but that they never told her such methods were being used.
However, Pelosi never filed an official letter of protest concerning harsh interrogation techniques with Bush administration.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Source: Top Pelosi Aide Learned Of Waterboarding in 2003
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