No Immunity, No Testimony

Published: January 15, 2008

WASHINGTON — Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., the former Central Intelligence Agency official who ordered the destruction of interrogation videotapes in 2005, will not be required to appear on Wednesday at a closed Congressional hearing on the matter but may be called to testify later, an official briefed on the inquiry said Monday.

Mr. Rodriguez, who led the agency’s clandestine service in 2005 and recently retired, has demanded immunity before he will agree to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into the destruction of the videotapes, which recorded harsh interrogations of two suspected Qaeda figures.

The committee has made no decision on a possible grant of immunity, so it postponed Mr. Rodriguez’s appearance. He remains under subpoena, however, and the committee may call him later.

The only C.I.A. witness currently scheduled to appear Wednesday at the closed hearing is John A. Rizzo, the agency’s acting general counsel, who held that job when the tapes were destroyed.

Committee members want to ask Mr. Rizzo what guidance lawyers inside and outside the agency gave on the possible destruction of the tapes. They also want to question him about why the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were not officially informed of the destruction when it happened, and whether agency officials deliberately concealed the existence of the tapes from the Sept. 11 Commission, as the commission’s leaders have said.

Mr. Rodriguez has told colleagues he consulted two agency lawyers, who told him that he had the authority to destroy the tapes and that it would not be illegal.