By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 18, 2009
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "ought to either present the evidence or apologize'" in the wake of her comments that CIA officials misled her about the use of controversial interrogation techniques on terrorist suspects.
"Lying to the Congress of the United States is a crime," Boehner said yesterday on CNN's "State of the Union." "And if the speaker is accusing the CIA and other intelligence officials of lying or misleading the Congress, then she should come forward with evidence and turn that over to the Justice Department so they can be prosecuted."
He added: "And if that's not the case, I think she ought to apologize to our intelligence professionals around the world."
Boehner's comments were the latest attempt by Republicans to focus on the speaker's knowledge of interrogation tactics in 2002, when she was the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee. Republicans have suggested that Pelosi, who has criticized the use of controversial interrogation tactics in recent years, did not object to them in private briefings at the time and has given inconsistent comments as to when she learned of the use of waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning.
Pelosi on Thursday accused the CIA of "misleading the Congress," an assertion that CIA Director Leon Panetta, a former Democratic congressman from California, rebutted on Friday. But congressional Democrats have defended Pelosi.
White House aides have declined to comment on the matter. But Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a top Obama ally, said yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Pelosi "absolutely" has the support of other Democrats.
Pelosi has acknowledged in recent weeks that she learned of the use of waterboarding from an aide who was briefed in 2003. But Pelosi says that by then she was no longer the senior Democrat on the intelligence committee and had little recourse to object to the tactics. The CIA says its records show Pelosi was briefed on the tactics in 2002, which the speaker has adamantly denied. She has asked that the CIA release the notes from that briefing, a request the agency has not granted.
Boehner sidestepped questions about whether Congress should start a formal inquiry into what Pelosi knew in 2002, as some Republicans, including former speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), have sought.