House Speaker Nancy Pelosi learned in early 2003 that the Bush administration was using waterboarding to interrogate a terrorist detainee, an inside source has told Politico.
The assertion refutes Pelosi's statement last month that she was never told about the use of waterboarding.
Pelosi has disputed a CIA document released last week showing she was briefed in September 2002 that interrogators were waterboarding terrorist Abu Zubaydah. Pelosi, who was then the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has said she was told only that the Bush administration was considering using certain interrogation techniques in the future.
But Politico maintains that "there's no dispute that on Feb. 4, 2003 — five months after Pelosi's September meeting — CIA officials briefed Pelosi aide Michael Sheehy and Rep. Jane Harman . . . on the specific techniques that had been used on Zubaydah — including waterboarding."
Harman, who was by then the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, drafted a letter to the CIA's general counsel to express her concerns with the interrogation tactic and asking if waterboarding had been approved by the president.
According to the Politico source, Sheehy told Pelosi about the briefing and later informed her that Harman was drafting the letter. Pelosi asked Sheehy to tell Harman that she agreed with the sentiments expressed in the letter, but did not ask to be listed as a signatory.
The source, who spoke to Politico on the condition of anonymity, said: "She felt that the appropriate response was the letter from Harman, because Jane was the one who was briefed." Pelosi "never got briefed on it personally, and when Harman got a 'no response' from the CIA, there was nothing more that could be done."
Republicans "aren't buying it," Politico observed.
"If Nancy was so concerned about the waterboarding, why did she let someone else write the letter?" asked Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee.
Hoekstra last week said he wasn't ruling out hearings to find out what members of congress knew and when they knew it.
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