Repub­li­cans keep pres­sure on Pelosi over in­ter­ro­ga­tion flap

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY KARA ROW­LAND

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on June 4 de­clined to say whether she stood by her claim that the CIA lied to her about its in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques, prompt­ing the cham­ber’s top Repub­li­can to warn that the is­sue is “not go­ing to go away” un­til Mrs. Pelosi backs up her state­ment or re­cants.

“I’ve said what I’m go­ing to say on that sub­ject,” Mrs. Pelosi re­sponded when asked about the topic at her weekly press con­fer­ence.

The Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat has kept mum in the three weeks since spark­ing a po­lit­i­cal firestorm by claim­ing in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials mis­led her in a Septem­ber 2002 brief­ing about en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion tac­tics. She had been try­ing to de­flect ac­cu­sa­tions that Demo­cratic law­mak­ers gave tacit ap­proval of the tech­niques, which Pres­i­dent Obama has deemed tor­ture.

Repub­li­cans are de­ter­mined to keep the story in the news, ar­gu­ing that her re­fusal to re­visit her com­ments has had a “chill­ing ef­fect” on the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity. Repub­li­cans also noted that Mrs. Pelosi as speaker con­tin­ues to re­ceive classified in­tel­li­gence brief­ings, de­spite her charges.

“She made this claim and it’s her re­spon­si­bil­ity to ei­ther put for­ward ev­i­dence that they did in fact lie to her, which would be a crime, or she needs to re­tract her state­ments and apol­o­gize,” said Mi­nor­ity Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Repub­li­can. “Al­low­ing this to hang out there is un­con­scionable.”

When asked what Repub­li­cans would do if she con­tin­ued her si­lence, Mr. Boehner said “all op­tions are on the ta­ble.”

“She’s made this ou­tra­geous claim. She’s un­der­mined our in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials,” he said. “Trust me: It’s not go­ing to go away.”

Top Democrats, in­clud­ing Mrs. Pelosi, have called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into tech­niques em­ployed by the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion. Mr. Obama has re­leased memos de­tail­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s use of ag­gres­sive tech­niques such as wa­ter­board­ing against top ter­ror­ist sus­pects.

In the po­lit­i­cal fall­out af­ter Mr. Obama’s release of the memos, scru­tiny turned to Mrs. Pelosi, a for­mer top mem­ber of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

Mrs. Pelosi, in 2002 a top mem­ber of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, ini­tially said the CIA only told her it be­lieved the tac­tics were le­gal but not that agents were plan­ning to use them on any sus­pects. A CIA record of the brief­ings showed oth­er­wise, say­ing she was in­formed that a de­tainee named Abu Zubay­dah would be wa­ter­boarded.

On May 14 Mrs. Pelosi flatly told re­porters that the CIA lied to her and said the agency con­tin­ues to lie to­day by mis­char­ac­ter­iz­ing the brief­ing. She also said the CIA lied in the run-up to the Iraq war.

“They mis­lead us all the time,” she said.

Her com­ments prompted CIA Di­rec­tor Leon E. Panetta to write a memo to his em­ploy­ees de­fend­ing their hon­esty and call­ing for the rhetoric at­tack­ing his agency to be toned down.

Mrs. Pelosi is­sued her own state­ment af­ter­ward, say­ing her ac­cu­sa­tions were di­rected at the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, not at the em­ploy­ees of the CIA.

Some Repub­li­cans, in­clud­ing Rep. Steve King of Iowa and for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, have called for Mrs. Pelosi to re­sign as speaker.

Other Demo­cratic leaders, in­clud­ing Ma­jor­ity Leader Steny H. Hoyer and Whip James E. Cly­burn, have come to Mrs. Pelosi’s de­fense and ac­cused Repub­li­cans of at­tempt­ing to dis­tract pub­lic at­ten­tion away from the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s record in the war on ter­ror.

KATIE FALKEN­BERG/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is re­fus­ing to com­ment on her claim that the CIA lied to her about in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques, though Repub­li­cans vow they will not al­low the is­sue to “go away.”

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