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Ex-CIA official is subpoenaed

The House Intelligence Committee orders Jose Rodriguez, who directed that interrogation tapes be destroyed, to appear.

December 21, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena Thursday for Jose Rodriguez, the former CIA official who directed that secret interrogation videotapes of two suspected terrorists be destroyed.

The panel ordered Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, to appear for a hearing on Jan. 16. Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) said Rodriguez "would like to tell his story but his counsel has advised us that a subpoena would be necessary."

The CIA cracked open its files to congressional investigators Thursday, inviting them to the agency's Virginia headquarters to begin reviewing documents and records related to the videotapes.

House Intelligence Committee staff members want to know who authorized the tapes' destruction; who in the CIA, Justice Department and White House knew about it and when; and why Congress was not fully informed.

The committee, which had threatened to subpoena the records if it did not get access this week, also wants to know exactly what was shown on the tapes, which documented the harsh interrogation of two Al Qaeda suspects in 2002. The CIA destroyed the tapes in 2005.

"We learned we have a long way to go, that there are a number of people involved that we need to talk with," said a panel official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation of the tapes' destruction was ongoing. "Many in the executive branch will be called."

The committee is still drawing up its list of witnesses to call.

At the Justice Department, investigators were combing through CIA e-mails and other documents and planning to interview former agency officials. One official familiar with the investigation said the review so far indicated that Alberto R. Gonzales advised against destroying the videotapes as one of four senior Bush administration attorneys discussing how to handle them. Gonzales was White House counsel from 2001 to 2005, then attorney general until late this summer.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. Gonzales' attorney, George Terwilliger, declined to comment.

Another of the administration attorneys, John Bellinger, then a lawyer at the National Security Council, has told colleagues that administration lawyers came to a consensus that the tapes should not be destroyed, said a senior official familiar with Bellinger's account of the 2003 White House discussion. Bellinger could not be reached for comment.

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