Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are
engaged in a new dispute over the Central Intelligence Agency,
involving allegations the CIA misled Congress.
The latest controversy was sparked
by a letter released on Wednesday by Democrats on the House Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence to CIA Director Leon Panetta,
regarding remarks he made in a closed door session with the committee
The seven Democrats say Panetta acknowledged in the
June testimony that top CIA officials had concealed "significant
actions" from Congress since 2001, and they urged him to correct a
statement he made in May that it is not the policy or practice of the
CIA to mislead Congress.
That earlier statement by Panetta was
in response to the controversy over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's
assertion that the CIA misled Congress over the use of harsh detainee
interrogation methods during the Bush administration.
regular weekly news briefing, Pelosi was asked whether the new
information about Panetta, which lawmakers have not discussed because
of its classified nature, has silenced the debate over her assertion
that the CIA misled lawmakers and the flood of attacks against her by
"This is an excuse, not a reason," she
said. "As I told you, our [the Democrats'] success is driving
Republicans to distraction; any excuse will do. But the fact is, there
is a briefing that is of serious concern for members of the committee
and they have their course of action to deal with it."
assert that the letter about Panetta's recent briefing is another
effort by Democrats to shield Pelosi from further criticism.
Democratic Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on
Intelligence, Silvestre Reyes, issued a statement saying he believes
the CIA has "in the vast majority of matters, told the truth".
he said that in rare instances, certain CIA officers "have not adhered
to the high standards held, as a rule, by the CIA with respect to
truthfulness in reporting."
In a letter to the ranking
committee Republican Representative, Pete Hoekstra, Reyes said the
committee "has been misled, has not been provided full and complete
notifications, and [in at least one occasion] was affirmatively lied
House Republican leader John Boehner says the letter to
CIA Director Panetta from committee Democrats changed nothing regarding
Speaker Pelosi's initial allegation against the CIA.
"I am still waiting for Speaker Pelosi to either put up the facts or retract her statement and apologize," he said.
a statement by the CIA said Panetta stands by his earlier remarks and
believes it is vital to keep Congress fully informed.
controversy spilled into consideration by the House of Representatives
of an intelligence authorization bill for the 2010 fiscal year, which
begins in October.
Democrats disallowed a Republican-sponsored
amendment, which they view as an effort to embarrass Pelosi, that would
have required the CIA to release unclassified accounts of its briefings
on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques.
Obama issued his second veto threat of his administration on the
intelligence measure, opposing a Democratic proposal to expand to more
than 40 the number of lawmakers who must be briefed about secret
activities. Currently, classified briefings are given to the top
Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress, and the majority and
minority heads of the House and Senate intelligence committees.