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Thread: CIA Admits It Destroyed Tapes Of Interrogations

  1. #101
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    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.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #102
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Station Chief Made Appeal To Destroy CIA Tapes
    Lawyer Says Top Official Had Implicit Approval

    By Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus
    Washington Post Staff Writers and Washington Post Staff Writers
    Wednesday, January 16, 2008; Page A01

    In late 2005, the retiring CIA station chief in Bangkok sent a classified cable to his superiors in Langley asking if he could destroy videotapes recorded at a secret CIA prison in Thailand that in part portrayed intelligence officers using simulated drowning to extract information from suspected al-Qaeda members.

    The tapes had been sitting in the station chief's safe, in the U.S. Embassy compound, for nearly three years. Although those involved in the interrogations had pushed for the tapes' destruction in those years and a secret debate about it had twice reached the White House, CIA officials had not acted on those requests. This time was different.

    The CIA had a new director and an acting general counsel, neither of whom sought to block the destruction of the tapes, according to agency officials. The station chief was insistent because he was retiring and wanted to resolve the matter before he left, the officials said. And in November 2005, a published report that detailed a secret CIA prison system provoked an international outcry.

    Those three circumstances pushed the CIA's then-director of clandestine operations, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., to act against the earlier advice of at least five senior CIA and White House officials, who had counseled the agency since 2003 that the tapes should be preserved. Rodriguez consulted CIA lawyers and officials, who told him that he had the legal right to order the destruction. In his view, he received their implicit support to do so, according to his attorney, Robert S. Bennett.

    In a classified response to the station chief, Rodriguez ordered the tapes' destruction, CIA officials say. The Justice Department and the House intelligence committee are now investigating whether that deed constituted a violation of law or an obstruction of justice. John A. Rizzo, the CIA's acting general counsel, is scheduled to discuss the matter in a closed House intelligence committee hearing scheduled for today.

    According to interviews with more than two dozen current and former U.S. officials familiar with the debate, the taping was conducted from August to December 2002 to demonstrate that interrogators were following the detailed rules set by lawyers and medical experts in Washington, and were not causing a detainee's death.

    The principal motive for the tapes' destruction was the clandestine operations division's worry that the tapes' fate could be snatched out of their hands, the officials said. They feared that the agency could be publicly shamed and that those involved in waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques would be hauled before a grand jury or a congressional inquiry -- a circumstance now partly unfolding anyway.

    "The professionals said that we must destroy the tapes because they didn't want to see the pictures all over television, and they knew they eventually would leak," said a former agency official who took part in the discussions before the tapes were pulverized. The presence of the tapes in Bangkok and the CIA's communications with the station chief there were described by current and former officials.

    Congressional investigators have turned up no evidence that anyone in the Bush administration openly advocated the tapes' destruction, according to officials familiar with a set of classified documents forwarded to Capitol Hill. "It was an agency decision -- you can take it to the bank," CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in an interview on Friday. "Other speculations that it may have been made in other compounds, in other parts of the capital region, are simply wrong."

    Many of those involved recalled conversations in which senior CIA and White House officials advised against destroying the tapes, but without expressly prohibiting it, leaving an odd vacuum of specific instructions on a such a politically sensitive matter. They said that Rodriguez then interpreted this silence -- the absence of a decision to order the tapes' preservation -- as a tacit approval of their destruction.

    "Jose could not get any specific direction out of his leadership" in 2005, one senior official said. Word of the resulting destruction, one former official said, was greeted by widespread relief among clandestine officers, and Rodriguez was neither penalized nor reprimanded, publicly or privately, by then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss, according to two officials briefed on exchanges between the two men.

    "Frankly, there were more important issues that needed to be focused on, such as trying to preserve a critical [interrogation] program and salvage relationships that had been damaged because of the leaks" about the existence of the secret prisons, said a former agency official familiar with Goss's position at the time.

    Rodriguez, whom the CIA honored with a medal in August for "Extraordinary Fidelity and Essential Service," declined requests for an interview. But his attorney said he acted in the belief that he was carrying out the agency's stated intention for nearly three years. "Since 2002, the CIA wanted to destroy the tapes to protect the identity and lives of its officers and for other counterintelligence reasons," Bennett said in a written response to questions from The Washington Post.

    "In 2003 the leadership of intelligence committees were told about the CIA's intent to destroy the tapes. In 2005, CIA lawyers again advised the National Clandestine Service that they had the authority to destroy the tapes and it was legal to do so. It is unfortunate," Bennett continued, "that under the pressure of a Congressional and criminal investigation, history is now being revised, and some people are running for cover."

    Recorded on the tapes was the coercive questioning of two senior al-Qaeda suspects: Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein, known as Abu Zubaida, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who were captured by U.S. forces in 2002. They show Zubaida undergoing waterboarding, which involved strapping him to a board and pouring water over his nose and mouth, creating the sensation of imminent drowning. Nashiri later also underwent the same treatment.

    Some CIA officials say the agency's use of waterboarding helped extract information that led to the capture of other key al-Qaeda members and prevented attacks. But others, including former CIA, FBI and military officials, say the practice constitutes torture.

    The destruction of the tapes was not the first occasion in which Rodriguez got in trouble for taking a provocative action to help a colleague. While serving as the CIA's Latin America division chief in 1996, he appealed to local Dominican Republic authorities to prevent a childhood friend, and CIA contractor, who had been arrested in a drug investigation, from being beaten up, according to a former CIA official familiar with the episode.

    Such an intervention was forbidden by CIA rules, and so Rodriguez was stripped of his management post and reprimanded in an inspector general's report. But shortly after the reprimand, he was named station chief in Mexico City and, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was promoted to deputy director of the fast-expanding counterterrorism center. He served under the center's director then, J. Cofer Black, who had been his subordinate in the Latin America division.

    When Black -- who played a key role in setting up the secret prisons and instituting the interrogation policy -- left the CIA in December 2002, Rodriguez took his place. Colleagues recall that even in the deputy's slot, Rodriguez was aware of the videotaping of Zubaida, and that he later told several it was necessary so that experts, such as psychologists not present during interrogations, could view Zubaida's physical reactions to questions.

    By December 2002, the taping was no longer needed, according to three former intelligence officials. "Zubaida's health was better, and he was providing information that we could check out," one said.

    An internal probe of the interrogations by the CIA's inspector general began in early 2003 for reasons that have not been disclosed. In February of that year, then-CIA General Counsel Scott W. Muller told lawmakers that the agency planned to destroy the tapes after the completion of the investigation. That year, all waterboarding was halted; and at an undisclosed time, several of the inspector general's deputies traveled to Bangkok to view the tapes, officials said.

    In May 2004, CIA operatives became concerned when a Washington Post article disclosed that the CIA had conducted its interrogations under a new, looser Bush administration definition of what legally constituted torture, several former CIA officials said. The disclosure sparked an internal Justice Department review of that definition and led to a suspension of the CIA's harsh interrogation program.

    The tapes were discussed with White House lawyers twice, according to a senior U.S. official. The first occasion was a meeting convened by Muller and senior lawyers of the White House and the Justice Department specifically to discuss their fate. The other discussion was described by one participant as "fleeting," when the existence of the tapes came up during a spring 2004 meeting to discuss the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, the official said.

    Those known to have counseled against the tapes' destruction include John B. Bellinger III, while serving as the National Security Council's top legal adviser; Harriet E. Miers, while serving as the top White House counsel; George J. Tenet, while serving as CIA director; Muller, while serving as the CIA's general counsel; and John D. Negroponte, while serving as director of national intelligence.

    Hayden, in an interview, said the advice expressed by administration lawyers was consistent. "To the degree this was discussed outside the agency, everyone counseled caution," he said. But he said that, in 2005, it was "the agency's view that there were no legal impediments" to the tapes' destruction. There also was "genuine concern about agency people being identified," were the tapes ever to be made public.

    Hayden, who became CIA director last year, acknowledged that the questions raised about the tapes' destruction, then and now, are legitimate. "One can ask if it was a good idea, or if there was a better way to do it," he said. "We are very happy to let the facts take us where they will."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  3. #103
    simuvac Guest

    Tapes Destroyed Over CIA's Objections

    Tapes Destroyed Over CIA's Objections

    By PAMELA HESS – 1 hour ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA official who gave the command to destroy interrogation videotapes apparently acted against the direction of his superiors, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday.

    "It appears he hadn't gotten authority from anyone," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., speaking to reporters after the first day of closed testimony in the committee's investigation. "It appears he got direction to make sure the tapes were not destroyed."

    Hoekstra said that raises the troubling prospect that there's a thread of unaccountability in the spy culture.

    "I believe there are parts of the intelligence community that don't believe they are accountable to Congress and may not be accountable to their own superiors in the intelligence community, and that's why it's a problem," he said.

    Hoekstra spoke after the CIA's acting general counsel, John Rizzo, testified behind closed doors for nearly four hours as the first witness in what committee officials have said will be a long investigation.

    "I told the truth," Rizzo said in a brief appearance before reporters.

    The man at the center of the controversy, Jose Rodriguez, had been scheduled to appear Wednesday, but his demand for immunity delayed his testimony. Rodriguez was the head of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, the CIA branch that oversees spying operations and interrogations. He gave the order to destroy the tapes in November 2005.

    The tapes, made in 2002, showed the harsh interrogation by CIA officers of two alleged al-Qaida terrorists, both of whom are known to have undergone waterboarding, which gives the subject the sensation of drowning.

    The White House approved waterboarding and other "enhanced" techniques in 2002 for prisoners deemed resistant to conventional interrogation. The CIA is known to have waterboarded three prisoners and has not used the technique since 2003. CIA Director Michael Hayden prohibited it in 2006.

  4. #104
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Lawmaker says CIA official defied instructions to preserve tapes
    Republican Pete Hoekstra contradicts accounts that Jose Rodriguez was never told to save the interrogation videos.

    By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    January 17, 2008

    WASHINGTON -- A senior House Republican said information gathered by the House Intelligence Committee indicated that a high-ranking CIA official ordered the destruction of videotapes depicting agency interrogation sessions even though he was directed not to do so.

    The remark by Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) contradicts previous accounts that suggested that Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., the CIA official who ordered the tapes destroyed, was never instructed to preserve them. Hoekstra's statement was quickly challenged by Rodriguez's lawyer.

    "It appears he hadn't gotten authority from anyone" to order the tapes' destruction, Hoekstra, the senior Republican on the panel, said of Rodriguez. "It appears that he got direction to make sure the tapes were not destroyed."

    Hoekstra's comments came as the House Intelligence Committee held its second classified hearing on the matter, receiving closed-door testimony from the acting general counsel of the CIA.

    Rodriguez, head of the CIA's clandestine service, also had been scheduled to appear at the hearing. But the committee withdrew its request that he testify after his lawyer said he would refuse to answer questions unless given immunity.

    Rodriguez's lawyer, Robert Bennett, disputed Hoekstra's statements. "He's wrong," Bennett said of the Republican lawmaker.

    Rodriguez "never got any direction not to do it," Bennett said. To the contrary, Bennett said, "He was told that as head of the clandestine service, he had the authority to destroy the tapes and that there was no legal impediment to doing it."

    Rodriguez is at the center of a criminal obstruction of justice investigation by the Justice Department, as well as inquiries by the House and Senate intelligence committees, into his role in the destruction of videotapes that showed CIA interrogators using harsh methods to question suspected Al Qaeda members in 2002.

    The tapes were destroyed in November 2005, at a time when the CIA was coming under intense scrutiny for its secret network of overseas prisons and its use of brutal interrogation tactics. Among the methods recorded on the tapes was waterboarding, or simulated drowning.

    Critics have described waterboarding as torture, and accused the agency of disposing of the tapes to destroy evidence of potentially illegal behavior. The agency has denied that, and maintains that its interrogation methods were legal and approved in advance by the Justice Department.

    Current and former CIA officials have said that the tapes were destroyed out of concern for the safety of agency operatives who could be identified if the tapes were leaked to the public.

    According to accounts by some of the current and former officials, Rodriguez ordered the tapes destroyed after receiving a request to dispose of the recordings from the CIA's station chief in Bangkok, Thailand, where one of the agency's secret prison facilities was located. Details about that request were first revealed Wednesday in a report by the Washington Post.

    Lawmakers declined to discuss details of their hearing Wednesday with John Rizzo, the acting general counsel of the CIA, who was involved in discussions within the agency about whether the tapes should be destroyed. Former CIA officials have said that Rizzo cautioned against doing so but did not instruct Rodriguez to preserve the recordings.

    Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), chairman of the committee, said Rizzo's testimony was "highly detailed," adding that the panel has also received more than 300 pages of internal CIA documents.

    Reyes and Hoekstra said they still intended to compel Rodriguez to testify before the committee but indicated that they were considering whether to grant Rodriguez's request for immunity. Rodriguez is in the process of retiring from the agency.

    The hearing came on the same day that the nation's top intelligence official, J. Michael McConnell, delivered a speech in Maryland in which he was asked about waterboarding.

    McConnell had been quoted in an article in this week's New Yorker magazine saying that for him "it would be torture" to be subjected to waterboarding. Asked about the comment, McConnell defended the CIA's interrogation program, and said information gleaned through interrogations had disrupted potentially deadly terrorist plots.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #105
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    Jan 2005
    House Panel Criticizes CIA Tape Destruction

    By Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, January 17, 2008; Page A03

    The CIA's destruction of videotapes containing harsh interrogations of detainees at secret prisons drew bipartisan criticism from House lawmakers who attended a closed hearing yesterday at which the agency's acting general counsel testified about the matter.

    Intelligence committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) said afterward that he remained convinced that the CIA did not meet its obligation to fully inform congressional overseers about the tapes and their destruction. He called the failure "unacceptable."

    Reyes said that John A. Rizzo, the CIA's acting general counsel, answered all questions, provided "highly detailed" responses and "walked the committee through the entire matter, dating back to 2002."

    Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the panel's ranking Republican and former chairman, said Rizzo suggested that Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., the CIA's head of clandestine services, acted on his own authority in November 2005 when he ordered that the tapes be destroyed. "It appears from what we have seen to date that Rodriguez may not have been following instructions" when he ordered the destruction, Hoekstra said.

    "There was a long debate about what should be done, and all indications are that Rodriguez should have halted when he gave the go-ahead," he added.

    Two of those at the hearing said that Rizzo said that after the tapes were made in 2002, lawyers at the CIA discussed the possibility that the FBI and the 9/11 Commission might want to see them. But the agency did not disclose the existence of the tapes to either before destroying them in 2005, a decision that commission members have criticized.

    "It smells like a coverup, but the question is whether it was illegal or not," said one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because those in attendance were pledged to secrecy about the session. The CIA has said it fulfilled its obligations by disclosing the existence of the tapes to only a few select members of Congress.

    Rizzo, who was a deputy CIA counsel when the tapes were made and became the acting counsel in 2005, participated in the agency's three-year debate over what to do with the tapes. The videos contained the interrogations of two senior al-Qaeda leaders at a secret CIA prison in Thailand and included a technique known as waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

    Some current and former federal officials have described waterboarding as torture. It has been outlawed by the military and prosecuted by the U.S. government as a criminal offense since the 1940s.

    The Justice Department has begun a separate investigation of the circumstances surrounding the destruction of the tapes.

    Rizzo declined to discuss his testimony after the hearing. "I told the truth," he said.

    One of the two sources present said that White House officials did not seem as involved "as they might have or should have been" in 2005 decision making about the tapes. At least five senior U.S. officials had advised the CIA not to destroy them.

    The committee deferred Rodriguez's testimony after his lawyer said that Rodriguez would not answer questions. The lawyer, Robert Bennett, has said that his client ordered the destruction after determining from agency lawyers that it was not illegal to do so.

    Separately yesterday, a federal judge in Manhattan said he would privately review classified administration documents related to interrogation methods and to the CIA's secret prison system.

    Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York said he will determine whether the material was properly classified or whether it should be released under a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, said Rachel Myers, an ACLU spokeswoman who attended the hearing.

    Among the documents sought by the group are Justice Department memos authorizing harsh interrogation methods, a presidential order establishing the CIA prisons and documents relating to the CIA's internal investigations of prisoner abuse. Hellerstein scheduled a separate hearing for Wednesday, Myers said, to consider an ACLU request to hold the CIA in contempt of court for destroying the tapes.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  6. #106
    simuvac Guest

    Who Will Take the Fall for the CIA Torture Tape Scandal?
    Who Will Take the Fall for the CIA Torture Tape Scandal?

    By Roberto Lovato, AlterNet
    Posted on January 18, 2008, Printed on January 18, 2008

    As he concluded a closed-door congressional hearing into the CIA torture tape scandal, Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, on Wednesday opened the country to a historic possibility: that the fate of the investigation into the destruction of the tapes will be decided by Latino government officials. Current and former Latino officials may even determine whether the investigation reaches the White House.

    Reyes, the powerful chair of the House Intelligence Committee, is charged with overseeing an investigation into the latest controversy. Reyes' fellow Tejano, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who was one of four Bush administration officials briefed on the tapes before they were destroyed, may be asked to testify in the investigation. And at the heart of the whole affair is Jose Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican native who was the CIA's former director of clandestine operations. According to the CIA officials, Rodriguez ordered the destruction of the interrogation tapes in 2005.

    Rodriguez was subpoenaed to appear before a closed-door hearing of Reyes' intelligence committee on Jan. 16. But after Rodriguez's lawyer informed Reyes and the committee that his client would not testify without a grant of immunity, the congressman decided to postpone the former CIA official's appearance. Some observers believe the postponement signals a willingness on the part of Reyes to negotiate some kind of immunity deal with Rodriguez.

    Developments in the case represent a new, more diverse chapter in the history of national security scandals. How these current and former Latino officials proceed -- especially Reyes and Rodriguez -- may well determine whether the investigation reaches as far as the Bush administration. President George W. Bush said last December that he could not recall hearing about the 2005 destruction of the tapes prior to a Dec. 6 briefing by CIA Director Michael Hayden, despite recent revelations that Gonzales was among the four White House lawyers debating between 2003 and 2005 whether to destroy the now infamous tapes. Some experts speculate that Rodriguez's testimony could lead to a wider investigation and that he is trying to avoid becoming a fall guy for the Bush administration.

    "If everybody was against the decision, why in the world would Jose Rodriguez -- one of the most cautious men I have ever met -- have gone ahead and destroyed them?" said Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counterterrorism during an interview with the Times of London. Cannistraro's sentiments were echoed by Larry Johnson, another former CIA official interviewed by the Times last month. "It looks increasingly as though the decision was made by the White House," said Johnson, who pointed to a likely expansion of the investigation by an eventual Rodriguez testimony. "The CIA and Jose Rodriguez look bad, but he's probably the least culpable person in the process," said Johnson. "He didn't wake up one day and decide, 'I'm going to destroy these tapes.' He checked with a lot of people and eventually he is going to get his say."

    Whether or not Rodriguez does, in fact, get his say depends on his fellow Latino government official, Reyes. Unlike Gonzales, whose rise from poverty in Humble, Texas, to the heights of power and controversy became front-page news following his involvement in the Abu Ghraib scandal, Reyes is a much lesser-known Tejano. Called "Silver" by his friends and close associates, Reyes, a very conservative, pro-Pentagon Democrat and Vietnam war veteran from El Paso, rose to the top of the congressional intelligence chain after a 26½-year stint with the Border Patrol.

    As the head of the congressional committee responsible for oversight of the CIA and 15 other agencies comprising the U.S. intelligence community, Reyes will play a definitive role in determining the breadth and scope of the tape controversy investigation. Derided by Fox News commentator John Gibson and other conservative pundits for being "unqualified" for the position, Reyes' past statements about Rodriguez may raise questions about his ability to objectively manage the investigation. During a Border Security Conference organized by Reyes at the University of Texas at El Paso in August, he presented an award to Rodriguez, calling him "our good friend and American hero" and speaking glowingly of his claim to fame as the man who inspired the role of Jack Bauer in 24. Rodriguez, he said, was "the genesis -- with a few liberties that Hollywood takes -- the exploits of Jose Rodriguez are documented in the series 24." Rodriguez, he added, "admitted to me that he likes fast cars. I won't tell you about the women, but I will tell you about the fast cars. He is a connoisseur of fine wine."

    Before becoming the CIA's director of the National Clandestine Service, Rodriguez was a career CIA operative who worked primarily in Latin America for more than 30 years. His role in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s appear to have prepared him to adopt the current legal posture he's taking before Congress today. When the FBI called Rodriguez in for questioning about his involvement, he was told that Iran-contra was "political -- get your own lawyer." After surviving that affair, he went on to become the agency's chief of Latin America Division before moving on to become, in 2004, director of the National Clandestine Service, the job that embroiled him in the torture tape controversy. His path to the position, Rodriguez says, was paved by both his Latino identity and his experience in Latin America.

    "When I took over the National Clandestine Service in November of 2004," said Rodriguez during a speech at the El Paso conference, "I did not realize that my experience, my background, my ethnicity, my diversity would be so important in allowing me to successfully lead service." Appearing to reinforce the position put out by Rodriguez and the CIA -- that he decided to leave the clandestine service because of his interest in what CIA chief Hayden called "speaking publicly on key intelligence issues" like "diversity as an operational imperative" -- Rodriguez's speech focused primarily on the link between ethnicity and national security.

    In a speech that sounded like a mix between a counterterrorism lecture and a sermon about affirmative action, he spoke to the racial discrimination that many Latinos and others experience in professional settings. "Our government was not going to put someone in charge of the nation's clandestine, counterterrorism, Humint (Humanintelligence) operations against Al-Qaeda merely to satisfy a 'diversity' requirement. I was put in charge because I brought something unique to the mission." And, as if putting a positive spin on the CIA's controversial role in Iran-Contra, the Central American wars of the 1980s, the bloody drug war in Colombia and other operations, Rodriguez credited his experience in "counterinsurgency and counternarcotics operations in Latin America." This experience, he said, also "provided some of the methodology that was adapted to fighting terrorism." He concluded his brief speech with a slogan popularized by Chicano civil rights activist Cesar Chavez (and, more recently by candidates Clinton and Obama), as he called his CIA experience a "source of inspiration to many minorities who now understand that 'si se puede, si se puede'" (yes we can, yes we can).

    Whether or not the tape scandal investigation reaches the White House, the involvement of high-profile Latinos in the controversy has already attracted considerable attention, especially among Latinos. For Antonio Gonzales, the executive director of the William Velasquez Institute, a Los Angeles-based think tank, Latino involvement with the CIA has a long history. "The CIA has always used our community," says Gonzalez, who added, "Many Cubans have always done CIA dirty work in Latin America and the entire world. Oliver North's Iran-Contra assets were Latinos." Asked about Reyes' ability to bring vigorous oversight to the investigation, Gonzales said, "Reyes is a heretofore unknown quantity. He's pretty [politically] moderate but is not considered corrupt or unprincipled. This investigation will be a big test of his abilities. I hope he does the right thing."

    Roberto Lovato, a frequent Nation contributor, is a New York-based writer with New America Media.

    © 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
    View this story online at:

  7. #107
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Judge wants answers on CIA videotapes
    Judge Orders Bush Administration to Explain Evidence Handling in CIA Videotapes Case

    Jan 24, 2008 19:23 EST

    A federal judge said Thursday that CIA interrogation videotapes may have been relevant to his court case, and he gave the Bush administration three weeks to explain why they were destroyed in 2005 and say whether other evidence was destroyed.

    Several judges are considering wading into the dispute over the videos, but U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts was the first to order the administration to provide a written report on the matter. The decision is a legal setback for the Bush administration, which has urged courts not to get involved.

    The tapes showed harsh interrogation tactics used by CIA officers questioning al-Qaida suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in 2002. The Justice Department and Congress are investigating the destruction of the tapes.

    When they were destroyed, the government was under various court orders to retain evidence relevant to terrorism suspects at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After it became public in December that the tapes had been destroyed, lawyers for several detainees went to court demanding to know more.

    "There's enough there that it's worth asking" whether other videos or documents were also destroyed, said attorney Charles H. Carpenter. "I don't know the answer to that question, but the government does know the answer and now they have to tell Judge Roberts."

    The Justice Department has warned that a judicial inquiry could jeopardize the criminal investigation. U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, the first judge to consider the question, held a public hearing before agreeing not to hear evidence in the case.

    Earlier this month, a federal judge in New York said destroying the tapes appeared to have violated his order in a case involving the American Civil Liberties Union. But U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has not yet said how he will rule.

    Roberts issued a three-page ruling late Thursday siding with Carpenter, who represents Guantanamo Bay detainee Hani Abdullah. The judge said the lawyers had made a preliminary "showing that information obtained from Abu Zubaydah" was relevant to the detainee's lawsuit and should not have been destroyed.

    Roberts said he wants a report by Feb. 14 explaining what the government has done to preserve evidence since his July 2005 court order, what it is doing now and whether any other potentially relevant evidence has been destroyed.

    Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd had no comment.

    David Remes, an attorney in a similar case who unsuccessfully sought information about the videotapes, praised the ruling.

    "It was only a matter of time before a court ordered the government to account for its handling — or mishandling — of evidence in these cases," Remes said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  8. #108
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    C.I.A. Destroyed Tapes as Judge Sought Interrogation Data

    Published: February 7, 2008

    WASHINGTON — At the time that the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed videotapes of the interrogations of operatives of Al Qaeda, a federal judge was still seeking information from Bush administration lawyers about the interrogation of one of those operatives, Abu Zubaydah, according to court documents made public on Wednesday.

    The court documents, filed in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, appear to contradict a statement last December by Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, that when the tapes were destroyed in November 2005 they had no relevance to any court proceeding, including Mr. Moussaoui’s criminal trial.

    It was already known that the judge in the case, Leonie M. Brinkema, had not been told about the existence or destruction of the videos. But the newly disclosed court documents, which had been classified as secret, showed the judge had still been actively seeking information about Mr. Zubaydah’s interrogation as late as Nov. 29, 2005.

    The destruction of the tapes is under investigation by the Justice Department and Congress.

    One of the documents, a motion filed by Mr. Moussaoui’s lawyers to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, cites several instances in 2005, including one after the videotapes were apparently destroyed, when government lawyers produced documents to the court that came from the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah.

    The document states that on Nov. 29, 2005, government lawyers produced documents, including “intelligence summaries,” about Abu Zubaydah but never told the court about the existence or destruction of the tapes.

    A response that was filed to the appeals court by federal prosecutors remains classified, government officials said. Mr. Moussaoui was convicted of terrorism-related charges in 2006, and the government officials said that last month an appellate judge had denied a motion by his lawyers, who argued that the destruction of the C.I.A. tapes meant the Moussaoui case should be sent back to a district court.

    The tapes destroyed by the C.I.A. documented the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah and a second Qaeda operative, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, according to current and former intelligence officials.

    After The New York Times notified C.I.A. officials in December that it intended to publish an article about the destruction of the tapes, General Hayden issued a statement to employees.

    In it, General Hayden said he understood that the tapes were destroyed “only after it was determined they were no longer of intelligence value and not relevant to any internal, legislative or judicial inquiries — including the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.”

    Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman, said Wednesday: “The rulings in this case are clear, and the director stands by his statement. Nothing has changed.” A Justice Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, said he could not comment on the unsealed documents.

    It is unclear whether the C.I.A. notified federal prosecutors in the Moussaoui case about the existence and destruction of the tapes before the matter became public. But one of the documents released Wednesday, a letter from Chuck Rosenberg, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said a prosecutor in the Moussaoui case “may have been told in late February or early March 2006” about the Abu Zubaydah videotapes, but “does not recall being told this information.”

    The papers made public on Wednesday were filed in the appeal of Mr. Moussaoui, who was sentenced to life in prison by Judge Brinkema, of the Eastern District of Virginia, in May 2006. The documents were filed in December under seal and made public this week with some redactions.

    Mr. Moussaoui attended a flight school in Oklahoma in 2001 but was arrested in Minnesota on immigration charges before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He admitted in 2005 to participating in terrorist plotting with Al Qaeda.

    The new documents also raised new questions about a letter sent to Judge Brinkema in October by prosecutors in the Moussaoui case.

    In that letter, prosecutors acknowledged that two declarations filed in the case by C.I.A. officials were inaccurate. The C.I.A. officials had denied the existence of video or audiotapes of interviews of certain Qaeda suspects, but the letter said the C.I.A. in fact had two videotapes and one audiotape of interrogations.

    Intelligence officials have said the three tapes, which still exist, are separate from the hundreds of hours of videotape of Abu Zubaydah and Mr. Nashiri that were destroyed. It is unclear why the October letter did not mention those tapes or their destruction.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  9. #109
    simuvac Guest

    Official: FBI agents interrogated detainees separately from CIA

    From Kelli Arena
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI sent agents to Guantanamo Bay in 2006 to independently obtain information the CIA had gotten from "high-value" al Qaeda detainees, but without using harsh interrogation techniques, a government official told CNN Tuesday.

    The official asked not to be named because information about the questioning is classified.

    FBI Director Robert Mueller had told agents to stay out of the CIA interrogations because of concern that the way the information was being obtained would not hold up in a court of law, the official said.

    The CIA used harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, during its questioning of three top al Qaeda detainees, CIA Director Michael Hayden said last week.

    Waterboarding involves strapping a person to a surface, covering his face with cloth and pouring water on the face to imitate the sensation of drowning. Critics have called it torture.

    There are questions about whether testimony gathered through waterboarding would be considered as testimony, said Charles Swift, a former U.S. Navy attorney who represented Osama bin Laden's driver.

    The last legal precedent he could find for such a move, he said, was the Spanish Inquisition -- more than 500 years ago.

    The objective of the FBI agents was to find out about any role the detainees played in the September 11, 2001, attacks and other activities, the government official said.

    The FBI was seeking the same details the CIA had gotten in previous interrogations, the official said.

    The captives were read rights similar to Miranda rights by the FBI agents, the official said.

    The questioning happened after the detainees had been transferred from CIA custody to a prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the official said.

    Five of the men the Pentagon announced it intends to bring charges against are among those high-value detainees.

  10. #110
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    AP Newsbreak: CIA destroyed 92 interrogation tapes

    By DEVLIN BARRETT – 1 hour ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — New documents show the CIA destroyed nearly 100 tapes of terror interrogations, far more than has previously been acknowledged.

    The revelation Monday comes as a criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation in the matter.

    The acknowledgment of dozens of destroyed tapes came in a letter filed by government lawyers in New York, where the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking more details of terror interrogation programs.

    "The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed," said the letter by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin. "Ninety two videotapes were destroyed."

    The tapes became a contentious issue in the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, after prosecutors initially claimed no such recordings existed, then acknowledged two videotapes and one audiotape had been made.

    The letter, dated March 2 to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, says the CIA is now gathering more details for the lawsuit, including a list of the destroyed records, any secondary accounts that describe the destroyed contents, and the identities of those who may have viewed or possessed the recordings before they were destroyed.

    But the lawyers also note that some of that information may be classified, such as the names of CIA personnel that viewed the tapes.

    "The CIA intends to produce all of the information requested to the court and to produce as much information as possible on the public record to the plaintiffs," states the letter.

    John Durham, a senior career prosecutor in Connecticut, was appointed to lead the criminal investigation out of Virginia.

    He had asked that the requests for information in the civil lawsuit be put on hold until he had completed his criminal investigation. Durham asked that he be given until the end of February to wrap up his work, and has not asked for another extension.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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