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Pelosi vs. the CIA: Who's Really Lying?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Nancy Pelosi takes on the CIA. The Speaker says the CIA lied to Congress about waterboarding. The question on everyone's mind, what did Speaker Pelosi know and when did she know it? Details at this hour are still a bit sketchy. This is a developing story.

But this much we know. September 4th, 2002, then representative Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress are briefed about enhanced interrogation techniques. Speaker Pelosi says she was briefed about harsh techniques that might be used by the CIA and that she was told the CIA and Department of Justice officials had determined the techniques were legal. However, according to the CIA and their record of the briefing, the CIA insists they told Congress that specific enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding were already being used.

And there's more. In a February 2003, CIA document, it says Pelosi's aide is part of a briefing that specifically says waterboarding is being used. Speaker Pelosi now acknowledges she was told about this meeting, which contradicts statements she made that she had no knowledge waterboarding was being used by the Bush administration.

Today, Speaker Pelosi came out swinging at the CIA, flatly accusing the agency of lying.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, R-CALIF.: The CIA briefed me only once on enhanced interrogation techniques in September 2002 in my capacity as the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee. The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed.

Five months later, in February 2003, a member of my staff informed me that the Republican chairman and the Democratic ranking member of the Intelligence Committee had been briefed about the use of certain techniques which had been the subject of earlier legal opinions. I was not briefed on what was in that briefing. I was just informed that the briefing had taken place.

He said that the committee chair, ranking member and appropriate staff had been briefed that these techniques were now being used. That's all I was informed, that they were being used and that a letter was sent.

Let me say this. Of all the briefings that I have received, at this same time, there were misinforming me earlier. Now, in September, the same time as the briefing, they were telling the American people there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and it was an imminent threat to the United States. I -- to the limit of what I could say to my caucus -- told them the intelligence does not support the imminent threat that this administration is contending.

So it's on the subject of what's happening in Iraq, whether it's talking about the techniques used by the -- by the intelligence community on those they are interrogating, at every step of the way, the administration was misleading the Congress. And that is the issue. And that is why we need a truth commission, to look into that.

QUESTION: Madam Speaker, just to be clear, you are accusing the CIA of lying to you in September of 2002.

PELOSI: Yes, misleading the Congress of the United States.

QUESTION: And also...

PELOSI: Misleading the Congress of the United States.

QUESTION: And doing it again now, as they've released this list of briefings that says you were briefed on the interrogation tactics used.

PELOSI: I'm saying -- I'm quoting what the head of the CIA said. This is -- we don't know if this information is accurate that he's talking about. What they briefed us on -- and perhaps they should release the briefings. I would be very happy if they would release the briefing, and then you will see what they briefed in one time -- in one time and another, House and Senate and the rest.

And perhaps with the intense interest that this has generated because of the distraction that the Republicans want to cause with this, then you can make a judgment yourself about what you think these briefings were. But I'm telling you that they talked about interrogations that they had done and said, We want to use enhanced techniques, and we have legal opinions that say they are OK. We're not using waterboarding. That's the only mention, that they were not using it. And we now know that earlier, they were.

So yes, I am saying that they are misleading -- that the CIA was misleading the Congress.

And now they're trying to say, Don't put the spotlight on us. We told the Congress. Well, they didn't tell us everything that they were doing. And the fact is that anything we would say doesn't matter anyway.

QUESTION: You said very clearly, We were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used.

PELOSI: That's right. I meant we. We in that -- in that -- in that meeting.

QUESTION: OK. OK.

PELOSI: In the briefing that I received, we were not told that -- in fact, we were told that waterboarding was not being used.

No, I wasn't -- I was informed that a briefing had taken place. Now, you have to look at what they briefed those members. I was not briefed that. I was only informed that they were briefed, but I did not get the briefing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Speaker Pelosi has really set the tongues wagging here in Washington today on both sides of the aisle. Now, we just heard from the Speaker, so let's go to the other side of the aisle. Senator minority leader Mitch McConnell is with us here live in Washington. Good evening, Senator.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, MINORITY LEADER, R-KENTUCKY: Good evening, Greta. Glad to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, how about all the documents? Why not let -- except for the ones for ongoing operations -- Vice President Cheney wants two documents from July 13, '04, and June 1st, 2005. He says it shows that this interrogation works. And now we've got this food fight over these other documents between the Speaker and the CIA. Why don't we just get them?

MCCONNELL: Well, look, we have a major dispute, obviously, between the Speaker and the CIA. What's not in dispute is the CIA and our armed forces have kept us safe since 9/11. Releasing documents is always troublesome in a -- these kinds of documents, for all of the obvious reasons. So releasing them all may not be in the best interests of the country and protecting the country. But clearly, we've got a fingerpointing contest here between the Speaker and the CIA. And at some point, I guess we'll find out exactly who's telling the truth. I think there are ample -- there's ample evidence, apparently, on the CIA's side. But I -- we'll see.

VAN SUSTEREN: But even -- but even (INAUDIBLE) I mean, like -- I mean, once there were some documents released a short time ago that the president declassified and put the whole issue in play, so the whole world knows that waterboarding happens. I mean, there's no dispute on that. Now, unless we release all the documents, everyone's imagination runs wild. There's fingerpointing in both directions. And we've got -- even Vice President Cheney says he's being maligned because he doesn't have the documents out. If it doesn't jeopardize an ongoing operation, is there any reason why anyone should be holding back those documents so that the American people know what did and didn't happen?

MCCONNELL: Look, I think the most important thing, rather than attacking the CIA, is to notice one more time that the CIA and our other agencies have kept us safe since 9/11. I mean, we've obviously done a lot right since then. A lot right. I mean, I don't know that anybody is upset that we haven't been attacked again for seven-and-a-half years. The CIA has been a big part of that. I don't think we ought to be doing anything to tear down the agency that has helped protect us from another attack here on the homeland.

VAN SUSTEREN: And Vice President Cheney, I think, agrees with you and even points to these two documents, which he says bolsters that so that he doesn't get from his political enemies.

All right, another topic, Gitmo. What are we going to do about Gitmo?

MCCONNELL: Well, my own view is we -- it's a perfect place for terrorists. We know there are over 20 hardened terrorists there, the planner of the attack of 9/11, the planner of the attack on the USS Cole. We know no one has escaped from there. We know it's a $200 million state-of-the-art facility from which no one has escaped.

Now, I disagreed, frankly, with the previous president that it ought to be closed. I think it's a perfect place for these terrorists. In the Senate a couple of years ago, we had a vote on this issue, 94 to 3 against bringing them to the United States. So I think we know where the American people are.

VAN SUSTEREN: But there are 250. So you say there are 20 known terrorists. I'm with you on those. I mean...

MCCONNELL: No, no. Those are the leaders.

VAN SUSTEREN: Those -- well, OK...

MCCONNELL: Those are the leaders.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what about the other 230? What...

MCCONNELL: Well, there are a bunch more terrorists there. I'm just talking about the leaders.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

MCCONNELL: There are a lot more terrorists there. We know that of those who've been released in the past, a good many of them have gone back to the battlefield and killed again.

This is a very delicate situation. We know that our European allies who've been criticizing the existence of Guantanamo are not wildly interested in taking any of them themselves. I think we have a real dilemma here. What is the solution? In my view, keep them at Guantanamo. Use the military commissions that we set up two years ago to try the ones who are subject to be tried, and work your way through the prison population. But don't send them to the United States. Look what happened over in Alexandria, right across the river from Washington here, during the Moussaoui trial.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's sort of interesting because one of the suggestions is that we -- that some of our allies take some of them, and I always go back to the one point where I think it was someone in Germany...

MCCONNELL: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: We said, you know, Take one of ours. You know, They're safe. And the response back was, OK, if they're safe, you keep them.

MCCONNELL: Yes. I don't...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, even -- I mean, you know, so the president some way seems almost boxed in because he says he's shutting this down. He's given himself a timetable. And we got to figure out if -- if we're going to do this, he's got to figure something out.

MCCONNELL: Well, look, the president changed his mind about a strict timetable for withdrawal in Iraq. He ought to change his mind about having a date certain to close Guantanamo. We know they can't escape from there. No one has escaped from there. That's a perfect place for them.

Many of them do need to be tried. We passed a military commissions bill two years ago for the very purpose of trying these terrorists. They've got a way to litigate these cases without bringing them to the United States. We know there's not a community in America that wants these terrorists.

We had one terrorist trial in this country, in Alexandria, Virginia, the Moussaoui trial. Talk to the mayor over there. Have him on your show. I mean, they do not want to go through that again. They had to shut down the court system. They had to stop the streets, shut off the streets every time they moved this guy. We don't want these terrorists in our neighborhoods. We don't want them in our jails.

And speaking of neighborhoods, they've been talking about releasing some of them not into incarceration facilities here in the United States, releasing them in our neighborhoods.

VAN SUSTEREN: Wildly unpopular with many people because nobody -- even those who want them released just don't want them in their neighborhood, which, of course, is a problem, as well. Senator, thank you, sir.

MCCONNELL: Thank you, Greta.






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