12:20 p.m.: Cross-posted from Capitol Briefing
Pelosi Accuses CIA of 'Misleading' Her on Interrogations
By Paul Kane
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today accused the CIA of "misleading" her on the use of harsh interrogation techniques in the fall of 2002, acknowledging for the first time publicly she knew alleged terrorist detainees were subjected to waterboarding more than six years ago.
Pelosi called for the CIA to release detailed portions of her own September 2002 briefing about interrogation techniques, saying that at that time she was told the CIA was not waterboarding detainees. After weeks of sticking to prior statements that she then was never "briefed" about waterboarding's use, Pelosi today said her top security adviser was part of a briefing in February 2003 in which he learned interrogators were waterboarding terrorists.
Later, government reports showed that a high value al Qaeda detainee had been subjected to waterboarding 83 times in August 2002, weeks before Pelosi's briefing on the matter.
"At every step of the way the administration was misleading the Congress," Pelosi told reporters in a heated news conference, linking the alleged misinformation on waterboarding to now discredited intelligence reports in the fall 2002 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
She said that in February 2003, after her aide relayed the information about the use of waterboarding, Pelosi learned that Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who had just replaced Pelosi as the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, wrote a letter to the CIA general counsel questioning the techniques and whether President Bush knew of their use.
"That is the proper person to send the letter," Pelosi said, explaining that she was then the House minority leader and was not the "appropriate" person to object to the technique. "My job was to change the majority in Congress."
8:00 a.m.: Cross-posted from The Fix
White House Cheat Sheet: Tea Party, Part Deux
Two prominent GOP governors will host a telephonic anti-tax tea party today, an effort organized by the Republican Governors Association to capitalize politically on the outrage expressed in last month's nationwide protests.
The call, which will be led by Govs. Rick Perry (Texas) and Mark Sanford (S.C.), will feature 30,000 participants in a sort-of virtual town hall, according to RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf.
"I have never before seen this level of political energy," said Sanford yesterday in an interview with the Fix. The goal of today's town hall, added Sanford, is to figure out "how do you take that energy and continue building it toward a movement that accomplishes change."
The first incarnations of the tea parties -- a coordinated series of protests on April 15 in cities across the country -- drew a huge amount of attention from the media, and provoked strong opinions on both sides of the partisan divide.
Republicans pointed to the events as the first stirrings of activity from their conservative base since then President George W. Bush's reelection race in 2004. Democrats savaged the tea parties as fake grassroots demonstrations organized out of Washington, D.C. and populated by radicals pushing a panoply of odd issues.
Perry, whose comments hinting at secession that day dominated the coverage of the protests, insisted in a conversation with the Fix that the caricature of the events was a far cry from what he saw.
"These aren't crazy people," said Perry. "These are sane, thoughtful folks [who] are seeing something that never happened in their lifetimes." Perry added that the tea parties are a sign of "a legitimate tempest that is brewing across this country."
While some noted that the lack of establishment Republicans who attended these tea parties, the RGA's attempt to bottle the energy surrounding the tea parties for political gain suggests that the party establishment was paying attention.
"Our efforts is by no means to take over the tea parties, it's out of respect for them," said RGA communications director Mike Schrimpf.
Schrimpf added that part of the reason the RGA organized the call was to make sure disgruntled voters know that their best chance to express their disapproval with growth in government spending is to vote against Democrats in governors races in New Jersey and Virginia this fall. "If you are looking for a bogeyman of the tax and spend agenda, [New Jersey Gov. Jon] Corzine represents it," said Schrimpf.
It remains to be seen whether the anger expressed at last month's tea parties can be shoe-horned into a political context to benefit the GOP. While some of the attendees of the tea parties were certainly Republicans, there were also a fair number of people who don't view themselves through that sort of political lens.
Sanford, for one, hopes that today's town hall is a step toward understanding what he believes to be a movement and figuring out whether "you can plug a piece of that energy into Republican governorships."
Thursday Fix Picks: Eating tic-tacs like candy sort of defeats the purpose.
1. President Obama blocks release of detainee photos.
2. SCOTUS pick coming next week?
3. Inveterate Wilco fan and Timesman Adam Nagourney's terrific look at the Macker's gubernatorial campaign.
4. A detailed look at what a Kirsten Gillibrand-Steve Israel primary might look like.
5. George LeMieux, Charlie Crist's longtime political consigliere, may run for attorney general in Florida.
SCOTUS List Still Not Final: Despite reports that President Obama will announce his Supreme Court pick next week, a senior administration official suggested that the list of finalists is not yet final. James Comey, who served as a deputy Attorney General in the Bush Administration and was a high profile objector to the president's domestic wiretapping program, is being considered but is not yet on the short list, said the source. "The list is still being finalized and there are names under consideration that no one has uttered publicly," the source added.
Sink for Florida: Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D) didn't wait long to announce she is running for governor of Florida -- making her intentions clear less than 24 hours after Gov. Charlie Crist (R) went public with his plans to run for Senate. In her announcement, Sink pledged to "put my business experience and know-how to work restoring our economy." Sink is widely seen as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination and the early favorite to be the Sunshine State's next governor. Republicans seem headed toward a primary with state Attorney General Bill McCollum and state Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson expected to run. A poll conducted last month for the Sayfie Review showed a dead heat between Sink and McCollum. Worth noting: Democrats haven't held the governor's office in Florida since "Walkin'" Lawton Chiles left office in 1998.
Ax on "Wait, Wait": White House senior adviser David Axelrod will make a guest appearance on "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me," National Public Radio's terrific game show when it comes to Washington today for a special taping. Axelrod is set to participate in a segment called "Not My Job" where he will answer a series of trivia questions in a job entirely unrelated to his. (Then Sen. Barack Obama played the game in 2005 and aced all three questions on Wade Boggs.) "Many people compare Mr. Axelrod to Mr. Rove but we think Rove was smarter as evidenced by the fact that Rove never agreed to come on our show," said "Wait, Wait" host Peter Sagal. Love it! And, is the Fix's invitation to come on "Wait, Wait" in the mail?
Mottola Sticks With Specter: Chris Mottola, a Republican media consultant, has decided to stick with Sen. Arlen Specter despite the fact that the Pennsylvania senator will be running for reelection as a Democrat in 2010. Mottola said he first worked on a Specter campaign in 1978 and has called him a friend for two decades. "To me, personal loyalty is an uncomplicated concept," said Mottola in an email exchange with the Fix. "From what I understand, everyone has stayed with Arlen aside from those whose livelihoods essentially require them to work for a Republican." Specter's pollster, Glen Bolger, stepped aside shortly after the party switch; Specter has yet to hire a Democratic replacement. Mottola was part of the media team for President George W. Bush's reelection race as well as the general election race of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in 2008. He worked for former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani during the 2008 Republican presidential primary.
Paterson's Poll Numbers Plummet (Again): It's another day but the same story line: New polling shows New York Gov. David Paterson (D) is in deep trouble in his reelection bid in 2010. In the latest Quinnipiac University poll, more than six in ten registered voters expressed disapproval with the job Paterson is doing while just 28 percent approved of the job he was doing. Paterson continued to trail state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo badly in a hypothetical Democratic primary race; Cuomo held a 62 percent to 17 percent lead in the Q poll although he has yet to make clear whether he will run. In general election match-ups, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is expected to make a decision on the race this fall, held a 54 percent to 32 percent lead over Paterson while Cuomo led Giuliani 47 percent to 41 percent.
Wyeth To Treasury: Natalie Wyeth is leaving her gig doing press for Organizing for America -- the guardian of President Obama's campaign email list -- to take a job as the spokesperson for international affairs at the Treasury department. (Ben Smith first reported on Wyeth's move.) Wyeth cited the chance to work with Jenni Engebretsen, director of the office of public affairs at Treasury, as the main thing that drove her decision. "Jenni has been an important mentor of mine and I jumped at the chance to work with her again," Wyeth told the Fix via email. Prior to joining OFA, Wyeth served as a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Her departure opens up an attractive press job -- the chance to work closely with Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and begin to lay the groundwork for the 2012 reelection race.
Click It!: It appears that some within the Kentucky Republican Party aren't too happy with Secretary of State Trey Grayson's decision to challenge Sen. Jim Bunning in a primary next year -- and, like all disgruntled people, have started a blog about it. "Turncoat Trey" is aimed at calling out Grayson on a wide variety of issues from his past Democratic ties to his mulling off a race against Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) in 2007. We sicced the Post web gurus on the site but they weren't able to tell us much other than it went live on May 11 and whoever set it up has done this sort of thing before -- carefully covering his (or her) tracks to keep from detection.
Say What?: "Just put it on vibrate, man, we did this before." -- White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issues a cell phone warning moments before confiscating a reporter's device.
May 14, 2009; 12:25 PM ET
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