[JURIST] Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] Leon Panetta [official profile] on Friday defended information the CIA gave to Congress on the use of interrogation techniques during the Bush administration. In response to statements made by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) [official website], in which she claimed to have been misled [JURIST report] by the CIA, and the subsequent media reaction to those statements, Panetta issued a statement [press release] to his employees urging them to "ignore the noise and stay focused on your mission." In the statement, Panetta said:
Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing the enhanced techniques that had been employed. Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.On Thursday, Pelosi claimed that the CIA misled Congress on use of harsh interrogation techniques, just one day after Wednesday's hearing [materials; JURIST report] before the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts [official website] on whether Bush administration interrogation techniques constituted torture. The recent release of four CIA interrogation memos [JURIST report] has renewed calls for the criminal prosecution of the memos' authors. US President Barack Obama has said that he would not rule out the possibility of prosecuting [transcript; JURIST report] lawyers responsible for authoring the memos. Obama had previously said that he would not pursue prosecutions of CIA interrogators [statement], a pledge which drew sharp international criticism [JURIST report].