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Pelosi: Bush's CIA misled me on waterboarding

May 14, 2009 |  9:41 am

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Critics are calling for her scalp. Republicans are insisting that she be the first casualty of the controversy over torture.

And this morning, Karl Rove, the man responsible for getting George W. Bush elected to the White House, called her "an accomplice to torture."

So today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to the podium to defend herself against a rising tide of criticism that she looked the other way when, as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, she was briefed on the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation" of terrorist suspects.

In a statement to reporters, she said that she was only briefed once by officials from Bush's CIA -- in September of 2002 -- and "the only mention of waterboarding was that it was not being deployed."

Now it turns out that waterboarding was being used, and Pelosi, like others in Congress, is urging a truth commission on torture to ferret out the details.

"They gave me inaccurate and incomplete information," she said, adding the CIA told they had legal opinions approving waterboarding but had not yet employed the tactic when in fact they had.

"This was the same time the Bush administration was misleading the American people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," she said. "They were misinforming me. At every step of the way, the [Bush] administration was misleading Congress."

As for her critics, she called the firestorm over her role "a diversionary tactic to take the spotlight off those who conceived and implemented this policy." She did not name names, but former Vice President Dick Cheney has been very vocal in defending the administration's decisions over torture.

But House Minority Leader John Boehner continued the drumbeat after Pelosi's remarks, saying, "It's hard to imagine anyone would mislead member of Congress." He also said Pelosi has changed her stories several times. "Let's find out who knew what and when," he said.

-- Johanna Neuman

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