CIA Official May Have Destroyed Tapes
Yahooo News/Bloomberg
James Rowley
January 16, 2008

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A CIA official may have acted on his own in ordering the destruction of videotapes of harsh interrogations of two al-Qaeda operatives, contrary to directions that the tapes be preserved, a Republican lawmaker said.

The House Intelligence Committee has evidence that Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA's clandestine service, didn't seek authority to order the tapes' destruction in 2005, Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra, the panel's top Republican, told reporters today in Washington.

"It appears he hasn't gotten authority from anyone with what we've seen today," Hoekstra told reporters after John Rizzo, the Central Intelligence Agency's acting general counsel, testified behind closed doors. "It appears that he got direction to make sure that the tapes were not destroyed."

The panel is investigating why the CIA destroyed the tapes, which is also the subject of a criminal investigation opened this month by the Justice Department.

Rodriguez, who was subpoenaed by the panel to testify today, was later excused when defense attorney Robert Bennett told the committee his client wouldn't answer questions. Rodriguez has sought an immunity grant that would bar Justice Department prosecutors from using statements he makes to Congress as evidence against him.

Hoekstra said the panel needs to discuss with Justice Department officials "what the ramifications might be of giving Jose immunity" from prosecution.

Representative Silvestre Reyes, the Texas Democrat who chairs the panel, said it was "premature" to discuss any immunity grants.

`His Version'

Hoekstra said the panel needs to get testimony from Rodriguez to hear "his version of where he thought he got the authorities from to make the decision that many people are attributing to him."

Bennett didn't return a reporter's telephone call or e-mail requesting a comment.

Asked for details about evidence that Rodriguez acted alone, Hoekstra said, "There are nuances in some of the documents that we've seen in some of the discussions."

Reyes declined to say whether Rizzo told the committee that Rodriguez acted without any authority. The chairman told reporters the inquiry isn't limited to the destruction of the tapes and that it may be expanded to include whether the harsh interrogation techniques were proper.

Reyes told reporters that besides Rizzo, discussions about whether the CIA should destroy the tapes included two agency directors, George Tenet and Porter Goss, "as well as senior officials in the White House" and in the office of the director of national intelligence.

"We will be questioning these officials so that we can learn what specific advice was given," Reyes said.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at

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