The war of words between the Democratic House leadership and the CIA escalated Tuesday with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer giving his unequivocal support to embattled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said the spy agency misled her on torture tactics used on terrorism suspects.
"There's been a lot of debate about the speaker and the CIA over the past week," Hoyer told reporters Tuesday. "I'm going to be very clear ... I believe the speaker. I believe the speaker when says that she was not specifically briefed on types of ... interrogation techniques that were being employed."
Hoyer called Republican outrage over the Pelosi-CIA briefing controversy a diversionary tactic to "distract the public from focusing what was done, what the justification for doing it was, and for President Bush's comments that we don't torture, we're not using torture ..."
CIA Director Leon Panetta has disputed Pelosi's claim last week. In a message to agency employees, Panetta wrote: "It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress ... Our contemporaneaous records from September 2002 indicate CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of (terrorism suspect) Abu Zubaida, describing the 'enhanced techniques that had been employed.'"