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Inquiry Sought On CIA Tapes
Democrats and the administration also clashed over the extent of briefings provided to Congress about the tapes.
The CIA says the Senate intelligence committee, for example, was first told of plans to destroy the tapes in February 2003 and was then informed during a closed hearing in November 2006 that the destruction had been carried out.
But Rockefeller said his panel "has located no record of either being informed of the 2003 CIA decision or being notified late last year of the tapes having being destroyed." A review of a transcript of the November 2006 hearing also makes no mention of destroying tapes, Rockefeller said.
On the House side, Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), who was previously the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said she warned the CIA's general counsel after a classified briefing in 2003 not to destroy any videotapes related to the agency's "enhanced interrogation program."
CIA officials said the agency never turned over the videotapes to the Sept. 11 commission because the panel did not specifically request them. But several members and staffers, including the panel's Republican co-chairman, disputed that claim yesterday and said the CIA's failure to disclose the tapes was in defiance of commission demands.
"That just doesn't hold water, because we asked for everything," said former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean, who was the panel's co-chairman. "They told us we had everything they had on the detainees. . . . You don't expect not to be told the truth, but we weren't told the truth."
The panel's former general counsel, Daniel Marcus, said CIA representatives told the commission that videotapes and interrogation transcripts did not exist for detainees linked to the 2001 attacks.
White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters that Bush "has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction" before he was briefed on the issue by Hayden on Thursday.
Perino said she could not rule out other White House involvement in the decision because she had asked only the president about it. The CIA is reviewing the case with help from White House lawyers, she said.
Miers was White House deputy chief of staff for policy when she was informed of the CIA's intention, administration sources said. She told the CIA that she opposed destroying the tapes, the sources added.
CIA officials have said that Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the director of clandestine operations, ordered their destruction in November 2005, and administration sources said last night that Miers, who was then White House counsel, learned of the order after it was carried out. News of Miers's knowledge was reported last night by ABC News.
A White House spokesman had no comment when asked about Miers and the tapes.
In separate letters to Mukasey and Hayden, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (Mich.) and other committee Democrats said that "withholding of evidence sought in fact-finding or criminal investigations could amount to obstruction of justice."
The lawmakers also asked whether the Justice Department reviewed or approved of the destroying the tapes.
In the case of al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui, prosecutors revealed in October that the CIA had discovered two videotapes and one audiotape of detainee interrogations, after saying that no such tapes existed. CIA officials say the tapes that were destroyed were not related to Moussaoui's request for material relevant to his case, however.
Abu Zubaida's interrogation played a role in the case against another alleged al-Qaeda operative, Jose Padilla, who is set to be sentenced in Miami early next year on terrorism charges.
Staff writers Peter Baker and Walter Pincus and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.