06/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Waterboarding Not Discussed At CIA Briefings, Congressional Aide Says

A senior aide to another member of Congress briefed by the CIA around the same time as Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells the Huffington Post that the use of waterboarding was never mentioned at those briefings.

Pelosi is under fire today after CIA logs showed that she was briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002. Several media accounts asserted that the CIA report 'appeared to contradict' Pelosi's statements that she was never informed that such techniques were being used (the Associated Press was more careful, running a headline, "CIA docs unclear on Pelosi interrogation briefings.")

And indeed, while Pelosi's critics have pounced on the new revelations, it's not at all clear that there is a contradiction.

The back-story here is important. Pelosi has repeatedly said that while she was briefed on interrogation techniques being discussed by the Bush administration, she was never told "that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used."

During an appearance on MSNBC in February, Pelosi said, "They did not brief us that these enhanced interrogations were taking place. They did not brief us that was - they were talking about an array of interrogations that they might have at their disposal... They may have given inference that there was some debate that waterboarding could be legal. Of course, I disagree with that. But the issue is, are you going to use such a thing? And they had not ever briefed us that that was the case."

On Wednesday, the CIA released a report describing the briefings it gave to members of Congress on the Bush administration's interrogation program. According to the report, Pelosi partook in a September 4, 2002 briefing on, among other things, "the use of [enhanced interrogation techniques] on Abu Zubaydah." The report, which was drawn from recollections of the CIA officials, did not, however, specifically mention whether waterboarding was discussed at the briefing -- an absence that Pelosi's aides say validates her statements.

Republicans have also trumpeted the report as evidence that protests now over the Bush administration's policies are politically motivated (after all, they say, there were no public protests in real time).

Unfortunately for Pelosi, the same day the report was made public she was traveling in Jordan and holding talks with King Abdulah II. The foreign trip has left her relatively defenseless to the new round of charges.

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