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CIA will release videotape documents

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071220/ap_on_go_co/cia_videotapes;_ylt=AvSQn1pmtR_v9Jcz06KiQias0NUE CIA will release videotape documents By PAMELA HESS,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 19, 2007
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071220/ap_on_go_co/cia_videotapes;_ylt=AvSQn1pmtR_v9Jcz06KiQias0NUE

      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
      agency officials.

      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
      destruction.

      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
      videos.

      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
      provided.

      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/
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