CIA Director Leon E. Panetta made a plea Friday for “turning down the volume” a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused his agency of lying to her in 2002 about interrogations of suspected terrorists and of lying again now about having briefed her.
“The political debates about interrogation reached a new decibel level yesterday when the CIA was accused of misleading Congress,” Mr. Panetta said in a memo to his employees.
“Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values,” Mr. Panetta said.
Though he didn’t mention Mrs. Pelosi by name, Mr. Panetta took on her charge head-on, pointing to CIA records that showed she was in fact briefed on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques on Sept. 4, 2002.
Mrs. Pelosi on Thursday continued to deny that the CIA said it was using the tactics, including waterboarding, at that 2002 briefing. She said the CIA said only that it believed waterboarding was legal, but specifically told her they were not using the tactic.
At her weekly press briefing Wednesday Mrs. Pelosi was asked if she was accusing CIA of lying to her, and she said “Yes.”
“They mislead us all the time,” she said.
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Mr. Panetta said CIA records of the 2002 briefing show “CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing ‘the enhanced techniques that had been employed.’”
He has offered to make the records available to members of Congress to review and make a decision about who knew what. But Republicans want the records made public so anyone can make a determination.
The White House refused to referee the dispute, with press secretary Robert Gibbs saying he wouldn’t get involved.
“I think you’ve heard the president say this a number of times: the best thing we can do is to look forward,” Mr. Gibbs said.