WASHINGTON — Top House Republicans are calling for the CIA to release to Congress its records on the classified briefings it conducted for lawmakers on its harsh interrogation program in an effort to establish what Democrats knew about those techniques.
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A spokesman for the Republicans said Monday that they would decide whether to declassify the records after they have been handed over.
Members of Congress have divergent memories on what they were told and when, and whether they objected, questioned or agreed to the methods.
The details of those classified briefings have been leaked in drips since September 2006 when President George W. Bush confirmed the secret overseas interrogation and overseas program. The most complete account to date came earlier this month when President Barack Obama released legal memos outlining the Central Intelligence Agency's severe techniques used on prisoners and detainees.
The methods included waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning — slamming detainees into walls, slapping and sleep and sensory deprivation.
In a letter sent Friday to National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, asked for the complete list of briefings, attendees, and notes taken at the briefings.
Hoekstra said Monday he has not received a response yet. House Republican leader John Boehner joined Hoekstra's request.
'Complete set of facts'
"Congress and the American people deserve a full and complete set of facts about what information was yielded by CIA's interrogation program, and they deserve to know which of their representatives in Congress were briefed about these techniques and the extent of those briefings," said Boehner.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat, said Monday that Senate Intelligence Committee members raised concerns about the harsh interrogation methods when they were briefed. She did not specify the date.
A Senate Intelligence Committee timeline released separately last week showed that the top two members of the committee were briefed in late 2002. Mikulski would have been briefed on Sept. 6, 2006, with all the other committee members, according to the document.
Now participating in the committee's review of the interrogation program, Mikulski said the committee was not given the details that have since emerged.
"The CIA leadership was not forthcoming," she said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Last week, the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi , said she had been briefed on the interrogation program in late 2002 but not about the use of harsh methods.
"We were not — I repeat — were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used," said Pelosi, a Democrat.
Officials: Briefings in 2002
Congressional officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the briefings were classified, said that briefing occurred in September 2002, less than a month after the CIA had waterboarded Abu Zubaydah a total of 83 times. The CIA waterboarded three prisoners, the last time in 2003.
Rep. Jane Harman, another California Democrat, replaced Pelosi as senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee in February 2003.
Pelosi said in 2007 that Harman "was briefed more extensively and advised the techniques had in fact been employed."
At the time, Harman wrote a letter — now public — to the CIA saying that the techniques described raised "profound policy questions."
Former CIA Director Porter Goss disputed their recollections of the briefing in an opinion column published Saturday in The Washington Post.
Goss was at the time chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and received the same briefings. He went on to become CIA director in 2004 and resigned in May 2006, a period marked by multiple legal reviews of the harsh interrogation program and the decision to end waterboarding.
Goss wrote that he was "slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as 'waterboarding' were never mentioned."
Mikulski disputed Goss' account, saying that he was trying to save his reputation when "he should've focused on saving his country."
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