House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she was never told during a congressional briefing in 2002 that waterboarding or other "enhanced" interrogation techniques were being used on terrorism suspects.
But in a story published in the Washington Post in December 2007, two officials were quoted saying that the California Democrat and three other lawmakers had received an hour-long secret briefing on the interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, and that they raised no objections at the time.
The clash of accounts has stirred Republican claims that Democrats have selective and politically motivated amnesia when it comes to who knew what, and when, about the Bush-era interrogation programs.
"I saw a partial list of the number of members of the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans, who were briefed on these interrogation methods, and not a word was raised at the time, not one word," House Minority Leader John Boehner said Thursday.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., is seeking a detailed list of all lawmakers who were briefed on the tactics. Republicans are drawing attention to the briefings to challenge Democrats who now say they are open to investigating, and possibly prosecuting, officials and lawyers involved in the drafting of the harsh interrogation techniques.
Pelosi is among those lawmakers who want an independent commission established to probe the evolution of the policies -- but it's still unclear what she knew early on in the Bush administration.
Asked about the briefings on Thursday, Pelosi said: "We were not -- I repeat -- were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used."
But she also did not explicitly say that waterboarding was not part of the conversation. She indicated instead that any discussion they may have had was hypothetical.
"What they did tell us is that they had some legislative counsel ... opinions, that they could be used, but not that they would," she said.
Pelosi indicated the briefings could have been incomplete, saying: "We only know what they choose to tell us, and the manner and timing which they tell us."
The Post article noted that strict rules during the secret briefings prohibit lawmakers from taking notes or consulting with legal experts, hindering the lawmakers' ability to challenge what they are being told -- in this case, about interrogation tactics.
But that doesn't mean they can't ask critical questions.
Pelosi indicated Thursday she's being hamstrung from fully addressing the briefing, and publicly questioning the tactics described in it, because it was secret.
"It's very interesting that people are talking so freely," Pelosi said.