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US House Speaker Pelosi Stands by Statement on CIA Interrogation Briefing

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she stands by her statement that the CIA misled Congress in a 2002 briefing for key lawmakers on the use of harsh interrogation methods on suspected terrorists.

Pelosi's allegation that the CIA was not truthful when it briefed key lawmakers in September 2002 about interrogation methods drew strong criticism from opposition Republicans and calls by conservatives for her resignation.

In her first regular news conference since she made the allegation, the Democratic House speaker was asked about calls by the House Republican leader John Boehner that she produce evidence to supporter her claim that the CIA mis-represented its use of waterboarding, a practice that simulates drowning.

"I have made the statement that I'm going to make on this, I don't have anything more to say about it, I stand by my comment and what we are doing is staying on our [Democrats] course and not be distracted from it in this distractive [way]. We are going forward in a bipartisan way for jobs, health care, energy for our country and on the subject that you asked I have made the statement that I'm going to make, I won't have anything more to say about it. I won't have anything more to say about it," Pelosi said.

Pelosi's refusal to answer additional questions or provide more details backing up her original allegation, which was rebutted by CIA Director Leon Panetta, is likely to keep the issue alive, at least at a low level, until Congress returns from a nearly two week recess.

Republican congressional spokesmen sent out e-mails accusing Pelosi of stonewalling, and suggesting she has become a political liability, while a group of conservative figures issued a statement calling for her to step down.

The day before, Democrats blocked an attempt by minority Republicans to form a bipartisan panel under the House Intelligence Committee to investigate Pelosi's allegation.

Though Pelosi and four other Democratic leaders with her had anticipated the question on the interrogation controversy, they spent most of the news conference focusing on accomplishments on the domestic agenda in the first months of President Barack Obama's administration.

On the economic front, Democrats pushed through a $787 billion stimulus package, and a budget blueprint supporting most of President Obama's key priorities.

They also made progress on legislation to address the U.S. financial and housing crisis, and set the stage for action this year on health care reform. A major energy and climate bill was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Xavier Baccera, vice-chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said there is good communication with the American people.

"These past four months have really been our way to communicate to the American people that we want to restore confidence, not just confidence in the government and confidence in the economy, but confidence that they can lift themselves up as well, and we want to give them the tools to do exactly that," Baccera said.

Speaker Pelosi confirmed she will visit China over the congressional recess, leading a bipartisan delegation for talks with government and private sector individuals on reaching common ground on the subject of climate change and energy.

Pelosi did not respond to a question on the extent to which she will use the trip to speak out on human rights issues.