Page last updated at 18:46 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 19:46 UK

Pelosi says CIA lied on 'torture'

By James Coomarasamy
BBC News, Washington

Nancy Pelosi: 'I am saying the CIA was misleading Congress'

The speaker of the US House of Representatives says she was misled by the CIA about the use of harsh methods during terror interrogations.

Nancy Pelosi has been under pressure to clarify what she knew since one of her aides said she had been briefed in 2003 that the CIA had waterboarded suspects.

Critics say the methods amount to torture and that officials who authorised them should be prosecuted.

Ms Pelosi has herself condemned the use of harsh interrogation techniques.

Questions remain

Nancy Pelosi has been feeling the political heat over the question of what she knew and when regarding the CIA's interrogation techniques.

At a somewhat chaotic news conference, the speaker - who used to be the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee - turned her fire on the CIA itself.

Previously she said she had been briefed in 2002 that waterboarding and other controversial methods had been approved but not that they had been used.

Now she says the agency misled her by explicitly informing her that those methods had not been employed.

The question of Ms Pelosi's knowledge has taken on greater political significance since the White House published justice department memos written in 2002 and 2005 that provided the legal framework for the interrogations of terrorist suspects.

The decision to publish them has been criticised by some conservatives, while critics of the methods have used them to call for the prosecution of former Bush administration officials.

That is something the Obama Administration initially opposed, but then said was a matter for the courts.

Ms Pelosi reiterated her call for a truth commission at the news conference and called the criticism she has been facing a "diversionary tactic".

But questions remain about why she did not raise objections to the interrogation methods at the time.

If her goal today was to clarify the situation, she failed.

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