Panel Delays Testimony By Former CIA Official

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The former CIA official who destroyed videotapes showing harsh interrogation tactics has been granted a temporary reprieve by the House intelligence committee, officials said last night.

The committee had demanded that Jose Rodriguez Jr. testify before it on Wednesday, but after being told that he would not answer questions without a grant of legal immunity for his testimony, the panel withdrew its demand, according to officials familiar with the arrangement.

The tapes' destruction is the subject of dueling investigations by Congress and the Justice Department. Federal prosecutors generally oppose immunity for potential witnesses because it can greatly complicate efforts to build a criminal case.

Officials said that a subpoena for Rodriguez will remain in effect and that talks between lawmakers, Justice Department officials and Rodriguez's attorney, Robert S. Bennett, will continue.

A senior CIA lawyer, John A. Rizzo, is still scheduled to appear at the closed intelligence hearing, aides said.

Sources have said that Rodriguez has not been allowed access to internal CIA files about his 2005 decision to destroy the tapes. They included footage of waterboarding and other harsh tactics used in 2002 on two suspected al-Qaeda operatives in U.S. custody.

-- Dan Eggen

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