McCain discussed the CIA tapes controversy at a campaign stop in New Hampshire Friday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Presidential candidates took aim at the CIA and the Bush administration over the destruction of video recordings that documented the interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects Friday, and included the use of the controversial “waterboarding” technique.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton told CNN that the revelation “raises some very serious concerns,” since it may have been done despite a legal request for such material from the 9/11 commission.
“So we're going to be looking into this vigorously to determine exactly what happened, what were the reasons for the destruction of the tapes what was the CIA trying to protect,” said the New York senator. “We've got to really clean house here and get to the bottom of what has been going on in the last years.”
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who has long been critical of the administration’s stance on harsh interrogation techniques that some have defined as torture, criticized the CIA but stopped short of accusing anyone at the agency of criminal action.
"I don't think they should have destroyed those tapes and it will harm the credibility of the CIA in my view, and I wish they had listened to members of Congress who said they should not do so," McCain told reporters after a New Hampshire campaign event, but "as far as I know, they didn't break any laws.
“But they should be concerned by their credibility with the American people. And to take actions such as that without a convincing argument for doing so, it erodes American confidence in the institution,” he added.
New Mexico Sen. Bill Richardson directed most of his criticism at the White House.
"The Bush-Cheney Administration seems to be on a mission to destroy our credibility in the world," Richardson said in a statement. "That these tapes existed is reprehensible. That they were destroyed is outrageous…. No one is above the law."
Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the administration’s actions in the matter, in allegedly withholding the recordings, “appear to violate federal law.”
"This is another troubling example of the Bush administration's lawless behavior that only serves to undermine our credibility at home and abroad,” he said in a statement. “Obstructing justice and making false statements to an official investigation cannot be condoned by our government.”
Biden called for the CIA's inspector general to launch an official investigation.
Meanwhile, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said the actions raise "deeply troubling questions about whether their destruction was intended to prevent the American people from learning the truth about the harsh interrogation techniques sanctioned by the Bush-Cheney Administration."