House panel subpoenas ex-CIA official who ordered destruction of interrogation videos

[JURIST] The US House Select Committee on Intelligence on Thursday issued a subpoena [press release, PDF] for Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA's clandestine branch who ordered the destruction of videotapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects [JURIST news archive]. The committee has also begun reviewing CIA records in its investigation into "the processes surrounding the tapes and Congress' requirement to be kept informed." According to a statement [PDF text] from committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX):

the committee is working to secure testimony for January 16 from [acting CIA General Counsel] John Rizzo and Jose Rodriguez. We are in discussions with CIA officials regarding Mr. Rizzo's testimony. We have been told that Mr. Rodriguez would like to tell his story but his counsel has advised us that a subpoena would be necessary. We therefore have issued the subpoena for Mr. Rodriguez. We look forward to his testimony as well as the testimony of others who have information about this matter.
CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged [statement text] earlier this month that the CIA had videotaped the interrogation of two al Qaeda suspects in 2002, but said that the tapes had been destroyed in 2005 amid concerns that they could be leaked to the public and compromise the identities of the interrogators. Several investigations have been launched into the tapes' destruction, including a joint DOJ-CIA preliminary investigation [JURIST report] and multiple congressional inquiries. The Justice Department had initially asked the House Intelligence Committee to defer its investigation [JURIST report] pending the DOJ inquiry, but has since backed off that position. According to a statement [text] from the DOJ Thursday:
We have no desire to block any congressional investigation. To the contrary, as we explained in our letter, we fully appreciate the importance of the Committee's oversight efforts. The wisdom, propriety and appropriateness of the decision to destroy these tapes are worthy and compelling subjects of an oversight investigation.

Furthermore, we have not advised the CIA not to cooperate with the Committee. We understand that the Committee has the full jurisdiction and prerogative to conduct this oversight over the CIA. We simply request that this oversight be conducted in a way and in a time frame that minimizes the negative implications for our preliminary inquiry - implications that could conceivably include: the disruption of our initial witness interviews, the delay and disruption of our document collection, and the tainting of any future criminal prosecutorial action because of Congressional grants of immunity to witnesses. These implications are of greatest concern at this very early stage of our preliminary inquiry - which is barely a week old – and will lessen as we proceed in the inquiry.

While we remain concerned about these potential implications for our preliminary inquiry, we are hopeful they can and will be avoided through ongoing consultation and coordination with the Committee.
AP has more.



 

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