Justice Department and CIA join in destroyed tapes investigation

Justice, CIA to probe destruction of taped interrogations

The Justice Department and the CIA will jointly investigate the destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogations of two al Qaeda suspects, a top official said.

The Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for national security, Kenneth L. Wainstein, announced the investigation Saturday in a letter to the CIA’s top lawyer, John Rizzo.

The probe will determine “whether further investigation is warranted,” Wainstein said.

CIA Director Mike Hayden said his agency will cooperate fully.

“I welcome it as an opportunity to address questions that have arisen over the destruction back in 2005 of videotapes,” he said. Watch the explainer on the CIA tapes controversy

President Bush and Vice President Cheney learned about the videotapes Thursday, when Hayden briefed them about the tapes and their subsequent destruction, administration officials said Friday.Video Watch the explainer on the CIA tapes controversy »

The tapes — showing using newly approved “alternative” interrogation techniques — were recorded in 2002, Hayden said Thursday in a letter to CIA employees.

At least CNN put the “alternative” in quotes. Bush has said that we don’t torture so we must euphemism some prisoners. This is going to drive people crazy trying to keep up with who knew what and when, then what actions they took and why didn’t they do more, Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Which brings us to Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Venice) Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Terrorism Risk Assessment who it is said did not do enough to stop the destruction of the tapes. Out of fairness she has replied,

CIA Director Hayden’s public statement yesterday, that some members of Congress were informed about the existence of videotaped interrogations of high value detainees, prompts me to respond.

In early 2003, in my capacity at Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I received a highly classified briefing on CIA interrogation practices from the agency’s General Counsel. The briefing raised a number of serious concerns and led me to send a letter to the General Counsel. Both the briefing and my letter are classified so I cannot reveal specifics, but I did caution against destruction of any videotapes.

Given the nature of the classification, I was not free to mention this subject publicly until Director Hayden disclosed it yesterday. To my knowledge, the Intelligence Committee was never informed that any videotapes had been destroyed. Surely I was not.

This matter must be promptly and fully investigated and I call for my letter of February 2003, which was never responded to and has been in the CIA’s files ever since, to be declassified.

Anyway No Quarter has a run down on who was in charge of what at the CIA from 2002 forward, More on Torture Tapes

And then there is the question of the DDO and ADDO. When the tapes were made Jim Pavitt was the Director of Operations (the guy in charge of the spies) and his Deputy was Stephen Kappes. But Stephen Kappes quit the CIA in a snit with CIA Director Porter Goss in November 2004, so he was not around in 2005 when the tapes were destroyed. Jose Rodriguez replaced Kappes. However, Kappes returned to the CIA with the current Director, Michael Hayden, and is the Deputy Director of the outfit. Stephen Kappes is likely to find himself in the hot seat answering some tough questions about the making of those tapes in the coming days. And Kappes must immediately recuse himself from any role in the current investigation of the matter at CIA.

Another personality likely to keep the media frenzy boiling is Kyle “Dusty” Foggo. Dusty replaced Buzzy Krongard, as the Executive Director of the CIA and was in that position when Jose Rodriguez allegedly moved unilaterally to destroy the tapes. Buzzy was Executive Director when the tapes were made.

Jose may present some porblems for Silvestre Reyes, the Democratic chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, since Rodriguez and Reyes are said to be friends. Not a particularly big deal since Reyes can and should recluse himself should Rodriguez become a focus of the investigation. Since the doors at the CIA leadership posts seem to have been revolving we’re bound to hear more names dragged in as things progress.