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Obama Rejects Truth Panel

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news briefing that she has "always been for a truth commission."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news briefing that she has "always been for a truth commission." (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)
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Earlier yesterday, Boehner criticized Pelosi and leading congressional Democrats who are pushing for the panel by noting that they had been briefed on interrogation tactics as far back as September 2002.

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"All of this information was downloaded to congressional leaders of both parties with no objections being raised," Boehner told reporters. "Not a word was raised at the time, not one word."

But Pelosi said leaders were never briefed about the actual use of waterboarding, saying top lawmakers were told only about the existence of legal opinions supporting its rationale.

"We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used. What they did tell us is that they had . . . the Office of Legal Counsel opinions [and] that they could be used, but not that they would," she said.

In late 2002, Pelosi was the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, so she was part of the "Gang of Four" briefings given to the top members of the intelligence panels in the House and Senate. Pelosi continued receiving highly classified briefings when she became Democratic leader in 2003, as it is customary to brief the top Democrat and Republican from the House and Senate.

The select few lawmakers who were briefed about the handling of detainees were then forbidden from discussing with their colleagues what they had learned, she said.

"They don't come in to consult," Pelosi said of administration officials. "They come in to notify. They come in to notify. And you can't -- you can't change what they're doing unless you can act as a committee or as a class. You can't change what they're doing."

Staff writers Perry Bacon Jr. and Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.

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