From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that when receiving briefings as a member of the Intelligence Committee, neither she nor other members of Congress were ever briefed that methods considered to be torture were used.
She did say that the Department of Justice briefed her in 2002 that techniques recognized as torture were approved for use by DOJ. But she says they were told they would let leaders know when or if they used them, which, she says, they never did.
That contradicts what House Minority Leader John Boehner said at a news conference this morning, where he implied that members of Congress who were briefed on tactics never raised objection.
"We were not told that waterboarding or any of these other interrogation methods were used," Pelosi said flatly at a news conference this afternoon.
Boehner had called the authorization of interrogation tactics "bipartisan." He said he saw a partial list of who was briefed at the time on the tactics -- and no one raised a question, Republican or Democrat, he said.
Pelosi, though, said that members of Congress "didn't tacitly or any other way approve of this. ... Any contention to the contrary is simply not true. ... Flat out, they never told us this was happening."
She added, "They don't come in to consult," Pelosi said, adding that she thinks the process of briefings should change, so members can have input and can have "proper," better informed oversight.
She said members are "hamstrung" currently and that she thought she was being briefed but "members of the committee were not privvy to a great deal of information."
She reiterated her call for a "Truth Commission," something Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today said he is against. She said those who implemented interrogations should not be subject to prosecution, as the Justice Department and White House have said. But "What about those above," she said, adding, "Those making policy."
She added, "These are not glory days for our country" -- that the interrogations took place "outside the law."
By the way, today is Bring Your Son or Daughter to Work Day, and Pelosi took 13 questions from the kids -- and only eight from the adults afterward.
*** UPDATE *** A Republican Hill source passes on the following Dec. 9, 2007 Washington Post story. Here are some key graphs:
In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.
Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
"The briefer was specifically asked if the methods were tough enough," said a U.S. official who witnessed the exchange. ...
Yet long before "waterboarding" entered the public discourse, the CIA gave key legislative overseers about 30 private briefings, some of which included descriptions of that technique and other harsh interrogation methods, according to interviews with multiple U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge.
With one known exception, no formal objections were raised by the lawmakers briefed about the harsh methods during the two years in which waterboarding was employed, from 2002 to 2003, said Democrats and Republicans with direct knowledge of the matter. The lawmakers who held oversight roles during the period included Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan). ...
Only after information about the practice began to leak in news accounts in 2005 -- by which time the CIA had already abandoned waterboarding -- did doubts about its legality among individual lawmakers evolve into more widespread dissent. The opposition reached a boiling point this past October, when Democratic lawmakers condemned the practice during Michael B. Mukasey's confirmation hearings for attorney general.
Pelosi declined to comment directly on her reaction to the classified briefings. But a congressional source familiar with Pelosi's position on the matter said the California lawmaker did recall discussions about enhanced interrogation. The source said Pelosi recalls that techniques described by the CIA were still in the planning stage -- they had been designed and cleared with agency lawyers but not yet put in practice -- and acknowledged that Pelosi did not raise objections at the time. ...
Harman, who replaced Pelosi as the committee's top Democrat in January 2003, disclosed Friday that she filed a classified letter to the CIA in February of that year as an official protest about the interrogation program. Harman said she had been prevented from publicly discussing the letter or the CIA's program because of strict rules of secrecy.