By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The chairman of the House intelligence committee has accused the CIA of lying to the panel in a classified matter, the second time in less than two months that a top House Democrat has charged the spy agency of intentionally misleading Congress.
Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Tex.), in a letter sent Tuesday to House leadership, said that CIA officials "affirmatively lied" to the intelligence committee when recently notifying the panel about a classified matter. Reyes wrote that it was one of several recent instances in which the CIA has not fully informed the committee on other classified notifications.
His complaint echoed charges by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who on May 14 said the agency intentionally misled her in a 2002 briefing on interrogation techniques used against alleged terrorist detainees.
"This committee has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and [in at least one case] was affirmatively lied to," Reyes wrote. The letter, which was first reported yesterday by Congressional Quarterly, was sent to Pelosi, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
In an interview yesterday, Reyes declined to expand upon the allegations in his letter, saying "it's all classified information." Late last night, he issued a statement crediting CIA Director Leon E. Panetta with bringing the issues to the committee's attention at a June 24 briefing.
The CIA rejected the allegation that it lied to Congress. "This agency and this director are committed to a candid dialogue with Congress. When Director Panetta believes something should be raised with the Hill, it gets done quickly and clearly. Our oversight committees recognize that," George Little, an agency spokesman, said in a statement.
Further increasing the tension on intelligence issues, the White House issued a veto threat yesterday to a provision that House Democrats included in an intelligence authorization bill set for debate today. The provision makes it the prerogative of the two committee chairmen to determine whether classified briefing information could be opened up to the entire membership of the House and Senate intelligence panels.
The White House said it "strongly objects" to that language, suggesting it would create an unconstitutional usurpation of executive power.
The provision was included at the behest of Pelosi after her showdown with the agency in mid-May.
Pelosi initiated the CIA feud when she accused the agency of intentionally misleading her, and not telling her about the use of waterboarding, in a September 2002 briefing on interrogations.
CIA documents released two months ago included notations indicating that Pelosi was informed at the 2002 briefing about waterboarding. Republicans have suggested Pelosi has not told the truth about her knowledge and support of the enhanced interrogation technique, an allegation they plan to repeat in today's debate.