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Obey Demands CIA Correct Record on Torture Briefing

Updated 1:40 p.m.

In a sign of the growing rift between Congress and the CIA, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) on Monday fired off a letter to CIA Director Leon Panetta demanding that he correct the record relating to a committee staffer’s attendance at a briefing.

“In light of current controversy about CIA briefing practices, I was surprised to learn that the agency erroneously listed an appropriations staffer as being in a key briefing on September 19, 2006, when in fact he was not,— Obey wrote.

Obey pointed to a recently declassified CIA memo, “Member Briefings on Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs),— which lists Appropriations staffer Paul Juola as one of the attendees of the meeting.

“Mr. Juola recollects that he walked members to the briefing room, met … the briefers, and was told that he could not attend the briefing. We request that you immediately correct this record,— Obey wrote.

The memo cited by Obey touches on the controversy swirling around Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi last week accused the CIA of lying to Members of Congress about the use of harsh interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists.

And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) noted that Panetta “was not there— during the time in question. Panetta was confirmed as CIA director in February.

“Mr. Panetta was not there. He wasn’t director, and he says the notes don’t reflect it,— Hoyer told reporters at his weekly roundtable.

The No. 2 House Democrat also repeatedly expressed support for Pelosi and her version of events, adding that she has “solid— support from her colleagues.

“My experience with Speaker Pelosi, I will tell you, over a very long period of time — we’ve known each other 40 years plus — she has an extraordinarily good memory,— Hoyer said. “So I don’t doubt her ability to remember what she was told and when she was told it.—

Hoyer mildly reproached reporters for keeping the controversy alive. “Republicans are going to stay on it as long as you guys keep printing it, as long as it keeps to be a television item,— he said. “Not about the substance, but about the distraction. And as long as you want to feed on it, the Republicans will continue to feed you.—

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