The House and Senate Intelligence ranking members on Thursday accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of putting politics above national security when she served in their same role on the panel.
Their comments are the latest escalation in a round of attacks on Pelosi over what she knew, and when, about the use of harsh Bush-era interrogation techniques during her tenure as Intelligence ranking member.
Pelosi hit back hard on Thursday, accusing the CIA of lying to her in a 2002 classified briefing on the matter. She also defended her decision to not speak out more forcefully when, months later, her top aide was briefed that interrogators had been waterboarding detainees all along.
“No letter or anything else was going to stop them from doing what they were going to do. My job was to change the majority in the Congress,— Pelosi said of her role on the committee, and then in her role as House Minority Leader.
But her take on the matter isn’t sitting well with those who now serve as ranking members on the Intelligence committees.
“I find it quite unbelievable that the Speaker of the House believes that politics comes before national security,— House Intelligence ranking member Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said.
Hoekstra said he was “taken aback— when Pelosi said the only action she could have taken to stop waterboarding was to focus on electing a Democratic Congress and president.
“That is a very dangerous precedent,— Hoekstra said. “What I heard her say … is, Politics are more important than national security. So I spent my time, rather than trying to influence this policy, I took my time focused on politics to elect a Democrat majority.’—
Hoekstra said he finds it “very difficult— to believe that the CIA would tell Pelosi things that were blatantly untrue.
Senate Intelligence ranking member Kit Bond (R-Mo.) said it is “outrageous— that Pelosi would “call our terror-fighters liars.—
Bond questioned Pelosi’s sincerity about knowing that waterboarding was not being conducted. “These are usually briefings about things that are about to be done. They don’t come in and tell us, Oh here’s a technique that we’re not going to use,’— he said.
In addition, Bond said, there were several things Pelosi could have done to protest the interrogation techniques. These included bringing in leadership, raising questions during a floor speech or using the appropriations process to try to stop certain policies, he said.
“There are a whole range of actions, and she did not take them,— Bond said.
“We have taken steps … in the Intelligence committees to stop things, planned actions, that we felt were too risky, unwise or unsound,— Bond said. “We know that we can have an impact. There are many things that could have been done.—