House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney “set a tone and an attitude for the CIA” that led to the agency’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques at secret prisons after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Asked in a television interview about a classified Senate committee report alleging the Central Intelligence Agency misled Congress about its interrogation methods, Pelosi said, “I think it came from Dick Cheney. That’s what I believe.”
The 6,200-page report of the Senate intelligence committee describes the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, which was used for suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S. during the George W. Bush administration.
President Barack Obama likened some of the techniques to torture and prohibited them.
If declassified, the report would rank as the government’s most comprehensive public assessment of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces and other interrogation techniques used on suspected terrorists.
The report seeks to document that the CIA overstated the value of its enhanced interrogation program and the quality of the intelligence it provided, according to two U.S. officials who have read the document. It also finds that the CIA failed to disclose to Congress the extent to which it used these interrogation techniques.
“I think he’s proud of it,” Pelosi said of Cheney today on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
That allegation drew a rebuke on the same program from Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee.
“That politicizes this in a way that I think is horribly counterproductive and likely to lead people to the wrong conclusion,” Rogers said, when asked about Cheney’s alleged involvement in the CIA program.
Rogers criticized the report from the Democratic-controlled Senate committee, saying it “made assumptions and leapt to conclusions that cannot be substantiated.”
Rogers also said he’s suspicious about the timing of Pelosi’s broadside against Cheney, a Republican who served as vice president in the Bush administration when the CIA program was in effect.
“Why now, into an election year, would you bring this up and then to say, well, this is all about Dick Cheney?” Rogers said.
Representative Charles “Dutch” Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on Rogers’ committee, declined to endorse Pelosi’s view.
Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “did some things that I might not have agreed with, but I think in order to criticize, I’ve got to wait for the facts,” Ruppersberger said.
Pelosi was briefed on the interrogation program in 2002 by the CIA, at a closed-door session confined to the top leaders of Congress and the intelligence committees, said John Rizzo, the CIA’s former general counsel, in an interview.
The Senate panel voted 11-3 last week to ask Obama to declassify the executive summary and 20 findings and conclusions from the report.
Obama plans to proceed with “all due haste,” on the Senate committee’s request, spokesman Jay Carney said last week.
Having condemned the interrogation techniques used under former President George W. Bush, Obama has also criticized congressional efforts to investigate such practices, calling on the legislators to concentrate on the future rather than the past. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who heads the intelligence committee, said in a statement last week that Obama “has indicated his support” for declassification of the sections proposed by the Senate panel.
Some Republicans on her committee have criticized the report as inaccurate. Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, James Risch of Idaho and Dan Coats of Indiana were the trio voting against the declassification request.
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