CIA will release videotape documents
CIA will release videotape documents
By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer 17 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The CIA said Wednesday it would begin
handing over documents to Congress about the
destruction of videotapings showing the harsh
interrogation of two terror suspects after the House
Intelligence Committee threatened to subpoena two
Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said
Wednesday he had prepared subpoenas for former and
current CIA officials and attorneys if they won't
appear before the committee voluntarily. The panel
rejected a Bush administration request that it defer
to an executive branch preliminary inquiry and has
launched its own investigation into the videotape
Reyes wants acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo and
Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the National
Clandestine Service, to testify to the committee on
Jan. 16. Rodriguez is the official who directed that
the tapes, which document the interrogation of two
al-Qaida suspects in 2002, be destroyed.
He told reporters the CIA had agreed to begin
providing documents regarding the 2005 destruction of
the tapes this week. That could be as early as
Thursday, according to senior intelligence officials
who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the
legal inquiries. If that doesn't happen, the committee
will subpoena them too, Reyes said. The document
request includes records related to the 9/11
Commission and to al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias
Moussaoui, whose attorneys were seeking interrogation
Rizzo will testify, though the CIA has not committed
to a date. Rodriguez has his own lawyer, so his
arrangements were being made separately.
The committee's announcement is another sign of
increasing tensions between Congress, the judiciary
and the White House over the interrogation tapes.
Congressional overseers are angry they were not fully
informed of the tapes and their destruction, and want
to know what else they have not been told. A federal
judge has summoned Justice Department lawyers to his
courtroom Friday to determine whether the destruction
of the tapes violated a court order to preserve
evidence about detainees.
Reyes also wants the CIA to make available CIA
attorneys Steve Hermes, Robert Eatinger, Elizabeth
Vogt and John McPherson to testify before the
committee. Former CIA directors Porter Goss and George
Tenet, former deputy director of operations James. L
Pavitt, and former general counsel Scott Muller are
also on his list.
Reyes' threat of subpoenas was triggered by a letter
the Justice Department and the CIA inspector general
sent to his committee on Friday. It asked the
committee to delay its investigation to avoid
interfering with an ongoing preliminary inquiry by
those two agencies. Reyes and the committee's top
Republican, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, had asked for
immediate delivery of all documents, cables and
records regarding the taping of detainee
interrogations, as well as for testimony from Rizzo
and Rodriguez at a planned Tuesday hearing. The
officials did not come and the documents were not
Reyes said the Justice Department letter chilled the
CIA's willingness to comply with the committee's
requests for information and witnesses. That has since
been clarified, he said. The Justice Department told
the committee Tuesday that the attorney general is not
advising the CIA to withhold documents.
Justice Department officials denied they had changed
their stance on the investigation. They said their
letter did not specifically forbid the CIA to testify
or provide documents, something the officials said
they have no authority to do. The officials spoke on
condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to talk publicly about the letter.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey has refused, however,
to immediately provide details of the Justice
Department's own investigation to the congressional
judiciary committees out of fear that could taint what
may become a criminal case.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein and CIA
Inspector General John Helgerson, who are heading the
joint Justice-CIA preliminary inquiry into the
videotape destruction, told the intelligence committee
they could not predict how long their inquiry would
take. They said they would need the same documents and
witnesses the committee has requested.
The New York Times reported in Wednesday editions that
at least four White House lawyers had multiple
discussions between 2003 and 2005 about whether the
CIA tapes should be destroyed. They included Alberto
Gonzales and Harriet Miers, both former White House
counsels; John Bellinger, then a lawyer at the
National Security Council, and David Addington, a
senior adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
A senior official familiar with Bellinger's account of
the 2003 White House discussion of the tapes said
Bellinger and other lawyers involved had come to a
consensus that the tapes should not be destroyed.
Bellinger could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
"The clear recommendation of Bellinger and the others
was against destruction of the tapes," the official
said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of
the sensitivity of the matter. "The recommendation in
2003 from the White House was that the tapes should
not be destroyed."
The official said Congress had been briefed about the
White House appraisal.
After Bellinger left the White House to become the
State Department's top lawyer in January 2005, he was
not a part of any discussions about the tapes,
according to the official.
White House press secretary Dana Perino called the
Times story "pernicious and troubling." In a tense
back-and-forth with reporters, Perino was adamant her
opposition to one of the headlines on the story that
said: "White House role was wider than it said."
How could it be wider, she asked, when she had never
commented on the White House role? She said the
headline made it appear that the White House had been
misleading the public.
"The White House has not commented on anybody's
involvement or knowledge, save for me telling
everybody that the president had no recollection of
being briefed on the existence or the destruction of
the tapes before he was briefed by (CIA Director
Michael) Hayden," Perino said. "After that, I did not
comment on anybody's knowledge or involvement. So if
somebody has information that contradicts the one
thing that I've said, then this would be true but
it's not. And that is why I asked for a correction and
The New York Times is going to correct it."
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee, Deb Riechmann
and Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this report.
On the Net:
House Intelligence Committee: http://intelligence.house.gov/