Congress joining in the tarring of Bush?


Richard Moore

Original source URL:,1,7842737.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

    House Vows to Pursue CIA Inquiry
    By Julian E. Barnes
    The Los Angeles Times
    Monday 17 December 2007

Also see below:
The Democrat Who Wants the CIA's Cameras Running (Guardian)

A key GOP lawmaker says his committee will investigate the destruction of 
interrogation tapes over the objections of the Justice Department.

Washington - The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee vowed Sunday
to press ahead with the congressional investigation of the CIA's destruction of 
interrogation videotapes, despite the strenuous objections of the Justice 

Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan said Congress would call witnesses and demand 
documents in order to investigate the CIA's decision to destroy videotapes of 
the interrogations of two suspected Al Qaeda operatives.

"We want to hold the [intelligence] community accountable for what's happened 
with these tapes," Hoekstra said. "I think we will issue subpoenas."

On Friday, the Justice Department said it would not cooperate with any 
congressional investigation, contending that giving lawmakers information could 
subject the inquiry to political pressures. Immediately after that announcement,
Hoekstra and the committee chairman, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), said they 
were stunned that the Justice Department was trying to block the investigation.

The two lawmakers have requested all of the CIA's records related to the 
creation and destruction of the tapes.

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Hoekstra said he believed his committee would 
defy the Justice Department's demand that Congress halt its inquiry and would 
force the Bush administration to provide information. Although Hoekstra said it 
was likely the committee would issue subpoenas to force testimony and documents,
members have not decided whether to offer immunity to potential witnesses.

Interviewed with Hoekstra, Rep. Jane Harman of Venice, the intelligence panel's 
top Democrat from 2003 to 2006, told Fox that she had warned the CIA in 2003 not
to destroy the tapes.

    "It smells like the coverup of the coverup," she said.

Harman, who is no longer on the intelligence committee, said that Congress and 
the Justice Department had conducted parallel inquires before.

Hoekstra was extremely critical of the intelligence community and its leaders, 
calling them arrogant, political and incompetent. "They've clearly demonstrated 
through the tapes case that they don't believe that they are accountable to 
Congress," Hoekstra said. "And when we are at war, that is a terrible position 
for the intelligence community to be."

The tapes were created in 2002 and destroyed three years later. The reason cited
was concerns that if they were leaked, the identities of the CIA interrogators 
would be compromised. They reportedly showed CIA officers interrogating Abu 
Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda suspect linked to the Sept. 11 plot, using a technique 
known as waterboarding.

Human rights advocates, many Democratic lawmakers and Republican Sen. John 
McCain of Arizona, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, say 
waterboarding is a form of torture and is banned under U.S. law and 
international treaties. The technique involves strapping a prisoner to a board, 
covering his face with cloth or other material and dousing the cloth with water 
to simulate drowning.

In the Fox interview, Harman said that she did not believe waterboarding worked 
and that she hoped the CIA's interrogation program would be forced to operate 
under the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits harsh techniques and 
almost all physical stress. The House has passed legislation, which President 
Bush has threatened to veto, mandating such a requirement.

    But Hoekstra would not swear off waterboarding.

"The last thing we ought to do is telegraph to Al Qaeda or other terrorist 
organizations exactly what may happen if and when they are captured," Hoekstra 
said. "I don't want to give them our playbook."

    The Democrat Who Wants the CIA's Cameras Running
    Elana Schor
    The Guardian UK
    Friday 14 December 2007

Amid the growing furore in Congress over the CIA's destruction of videos showing
al-Qaida suspects under brutal questioning, the senior Democrat on the House of 
Representatives' intelligence oversight panel is offering a unique solution: 
require the taping of all interrogations.

Representative Rush Holt, named by senior Democrats to head the new oversight 
panel this year, has long advocated the recording of all interrogations 
conducted in US custody. Required videotaping would not only protect terrorism 
suspects from possible abuses, Holt contends, but also shield US operatives from
unjustified suspicion and ensure higher-quality intelligence is received.

Now that the destroyed CIA tapes have upended the spy agency and sparked 
multiple inquiries, Holt told Guardian America, "I figured the time was right to
re-introduce the videotape bill, partly because a major objection of the 
intelligence community-that it can't be and never is done-has been removed."

When CIA director Michael Hayden came before Holt's panel yesterday, the 
Democrat urged him to consider supporting the videotaped interrogations 
proposal. But the Bush administration has opposed the bill since its first 
introduction, before the revelations of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison 
facility in Iraq, and is unlikely to bend despite the pressure of the destroyed 
tapes scandal.

Holt declined to discuss where the House intelligence committee's investigation,
which plans its first hearing on the interrogation tapes next week, would 
ultimately lead. But he pointedly disputed Hayden's claim, in a December 6 
letter to CIA staff, that the tapes were trashed after the agency determined 
they were "not relevant to any internal, legislative, or judicial inquiries".

"That's just not correct," Holt said. "It was apparent - and it was apparent to 
the CIA - that there was use for the tapes, at least judicial if not 

Two federal judges had ordered the Bush administration to hold onto all 
materials relating to treatment of detainees at Guantánamo Bay months before the
tapes were destroyed, and the American Civil Liberties Union had filed freedom 
of information requests that required preservation of all records on prisoner 

Under the bill Holt proposed today, the taped interrogations conducted by US 
troops, spies and contractors would be kept under classified cover and military 
prosecutors would develop rules to ensure the recordings do not infringe upon 
the human rights of detained suspects.

The Democrat draws a parallel between the CIA's resistance to his plan and state
police in the US who initially protested laws ordering them to keep records of 
suspects under questioning. Police officers now welcome the taping as a 
protection and a boon to their work, Holt said.

"I believe the lessons those law enforcement organizations have learned can be 
applied to our current detainee policies, particularly in light of the 
revelations about the CIA's destruction of video and/or audio recordings of 
detainee interrogations," Holt wrote in a letter to colleagues seeking support 
for his bill. Five Democrats are currently co-sponsors of the proposal.

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