Nancy Pelosi was aware of CIA torture

DEMOCRAT Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful person in the US Congress, and a critic of Bush administration interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, knew about the practice in 2003 and said nothing. The Speaker in the US House of Representatives made the admission yesterday in an extraordinary press conference as she fought to maintain her credibility among the Democratic base.

Appearing tense and flustered on the podium as she rifled through her notes, Ms Pelosi is in the firing line after offering several versions of events in the past few weeks about CIA briefings on interrogation policies in 2002 and 2003.

Republicans have accused her of hypocrisy and the Democrat from San Francisco has tried to hit back. She charged yesterday that the CIA was lying over what it was doing with detainees caught after 9/11. But she admitted for the first time that she learnt the CIA was employing harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding - which simulates drowning - in February 2003. She said a staffer alerted her to the contents of CIA briefings to other top politicians. She said the secrecy of the program prevented her from speaking out and denied that made her complicit in any detainee abuse.

The revelation is just one more of the bizarre explanations from Ms Pelosi over the CIA interrogation controversy. She acknowledges she was directly briefed by the CIA five months before that February conversation. But her account of the September 2002 meeting with CIA officials on the interrogation program differs markedly from that of the CIA and a Republican politician who was present.

Ms Pelosi said that in the briefing the CIA simply outlined the legal framework backing detainee interrogation but she was never told what interrogation measures the CIA had in mind or that any had been carried out - an explanation contradicted by others present.


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