The controversy has rattled Pelosi. She read a lengthy statement Thursday outlining her actions, and her news conference featured only one question that wasn't about the intelligence controversy.
The speaker recalled that she was told in 2002 that Justice
Department opinions had concluded that the use of enhanced interrogation techniques was legal. "The only mention of waterboarding at that briefing was that it was not being employed," Pelosi said.
In February 2003, one of her staff members told her that House Intelligence Committee officials — she was no longer the ranking Democratic member — had been told about "certain techniques," and Democrats sent a letter raising concerns to the CIA.
"But no letter could change their policy," she said.
Republicans scoffed at her comments. House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said that Pelosi's explaining raised more questions than answers.
"I've dealt with our intelligence professionals for the last three and a half years, on an almost daily basis," Boehner said, "and it's hard for me to imagine that anyone in our intelligence area would ever mislead a member of Congress."