Intelligence officials released documents yesterday saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was briefed in September 2002 about the use of harsh interrogation tactics against al-Qaeda suspects, seeming to contradict her repeated statements that she was never told the techniques were actually being used.
In a 10-page memo outlining an almost seven-year history of classified briefings, intelligence officials said that Pelosi and then-Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) were the first two members of Congress briefed on the tactics. Then the ranking member and chairman of the House intelligence committee, respectively, Pelosi and Goss were briefed Sept. 4, 2002, one week before the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The memo, issued to Capitol Hill by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, notes that the Pelosi-Goss briefing covered "EITs including the use of EITs" on Abu Zubaida. EIT is an acronym for enhanced interrogation technique, and Abu Zubaida, whose real name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, was one of the earliest valuable al-Qaeda members captured. He also was the first to have the controversial tactic of simulated drowning, or waterboarding, used against him.
The issue of what Pelosi knew and when she knew it has become a tussle on Capitol Hill. Republicans have accused her of knowing for years about the interrogation techniques CIA agents were using and of objecting only when the tactics became public and antiwar activists protested.
In a carefully worded statement, Pelosi's office said yesterday that she had never been briefed about the use of waterboarding, only that it had been approved by Bush administration lawyers as a legal interrogation technique.
"As this document shows, the speaker was briefed only once, in September 2002. The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not yet been used," said Brendan Daly, Pelosi's spokesman.