House panel to probe CIA destruction of interrogation videos despite DOJ request

[JURIST] The ranking member of the US House Select Committee on Intelligence [official website] said Sunday that the committee would proceed with its investigation into the CIA's destruction of videotapes [JURIST report] showing the interrogation of terror suspects, despite the Justice Department's advice that the CIA not cooperate with the probe and request that the committee delay its investigation pending the Justice Department's own investigation [JURIST reports] into the circumstances surrounding the tapes' destruction. In an appearance on Fox News Sunday [transcript], Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) said that it was important to hold the intelligence community accountable:

WALLACE: On Friday, the Justice Department moved to block congressional investigations of the destruction of these CIA tapes, saying that it would jeopardize its own probe.

Congressman Hoekstra, does that mean your committee is going to stand down?

HOEKSTRA: No, I don't think so. I think what we're going to do is we want to hold the community accountable for what's happened with these tapes. I think we will issue subpoenas.

And once these witness appear in front of the committee, then I think we'll have to make the decision as to whether we're going to provide them with immunity or not. But our investigation should move forward.

WALLACE: So you're going to defy the letter that you got from the Justice Department.

HOEKSTRA: I think so. I mean, obviously, I need to talk with the chairman of the committee about that, but that directionally is where I would like to go, absolutely.

WALLACE: Why?

HOEKSTRA: Because I think it's important for Congress to hold this community accountable. You know, this community did not tell — the CIA did not tell us about the existence of these tapes. They did not tell us that they were going to be destroyed.

There's a constitutional responsibility for them to keep Congress informed, and they have not, and we need to hold them accountable. The parts of this investigation that are being handled by justice — that's a different issue.

But we need to hold them accountable because they did not respond and they did not perform the way we expected them to.
Also appearing on the program was Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), chair of the intelligence subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security, who said that she personally advised the CIA not to destroy the videotapes and that Congress was not informed when the tapes were destroyed.

CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged [statement text] earlier this month that the CIA had videotaped the interrogation of two terror 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. Reuters has more.


 

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