December 7th, 2007
12:29 PM ET
6 years ago

Senate likely to hold hearings on destroyed CIA tapes

Rockefeller told reporters he will likely hold hearings about the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller told reporters Friday that he is “inclined” to hold hearings as soon as next week on news of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes.

The revelation this week that the intelligence agency had destroyed 2002 video recordings of the interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects that may have involved the controversial “waterboarding” technique of terror suspects drew criticism from both sides of the aisle.

Rockefeller, who was ranking Democrat at the time, did not attend initial briefing on the tapes, held shortly after they were made, but said he learned about the tapes’ existence shortly afterwards. “[The CIA] destroyed it without letting us know, without asking our permission, without consulting, without informing us in any way,” he added. “They just did what the CIA likes to do.”

Said Rockefeller, “I’ll tell you I’m really sick of this. I’m really angry about it. It’s the manipulation of the Congress.

“The use of two people out of the Senate, two people out of the House, because nobody else can be told and they say… ‘oh! They’re briefed.”

The West Virginia Democrat said that the announcement awaited his consultation with the committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri, and the timing of a deal on the next FISA renewal.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate’s number two Democrat, told reporters he is writing a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey requesting a Justice Department investigation into the tapes. “To think that this agency would destroy evidence, evidence that might have been used against them really is something we cannot leave alone,” said the Illinois Democrat.

Reacting to agency claims that tapes were destroyed for security reasons, including the protection of interrogators, Durbin said, “I reject that completely. We know that there are ways to protect the identity of people involved in videotapes, you can block out their faces, protect their identities. I just don’t accept that at all.

“I think on its face, that is just an incredible statement… Obviously there is fear among some that some of the information contained is going to be troublesome if not incriminating.”

– CNN Radio’s Lisa Desjardins contributed to this report


Filed under: Senate
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Mark, Shreveport, La

    Great, congress is debating a billion-dollar tax payer give-a-way farm bill, an anti-free market energy bill, we have a presidential election coming up, we're at war in two foreign countries, 500 million dollars in Katrina relief fraud has been discovered, we may be heading for a recession, and congress is wasting time over two videotape interrogations of terrorists?
    your tax dollars at work, america!

    December 7, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Sarah, Rocklin, CA

    The numbness created by all the mistakes and dishonest dealings with the Bush administration is overwhelming. We can't even feel our toes because so much has happened that is absolutely frightening. I agree with Ken from Omaha, NB. Bush has forgotten about the needs of the next generation. So very, very sad indeed.

    December 7, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Helen, NY

    Jay is another senator among democrats wants to show his anger and have hearings. He wants to show to american people that he is doing a great thing by wasting american taxpayers' money. Back off, senator. Do not try to show that you are doing something whiel you are doing nothing to help us. Just go away....

    December 7, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. Steve. Lyons, CO

    "I'm afraid I can't jump on the conspiracy bandwagon that the media likes to trump up on a regular basis."

    Really, Ben? So, whatever reason the CIA had to destroy those tapes must've been a good one, right Ben? Just trust them, right? There could be no reason, except maybe...er, the physical effects of waterboarding were too tough for anyone to watch?

    You're an enabler, Ben. Someone who doesn't understand the Constitution, and who seems befuddled by all of the illegality we've seen out of these criminals.

    You're part of the problem.

    December 7, 2007 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Brian, Citrus Spring, Florida

    Are we really going to trust somebody with the last name of Rockefeller to oversee this hearing? Why not just get Marvin Bush to investigate it?

    December 7, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. David Allen Linkenheimer, East Brady, Pa.

    How much more evidence of high treason do we need before these traitors get their just deserts... A short rope and a tall tree...

    December 7, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    Jeannie,
    Let me say this, since I did not say they were protecting CIA interrogators engaging in torture, you did, that if it were up to me, all the terrorists they could get their hands on, get them and take them all waterboarding. Look what they have done to our Americans, and the ones that have lost their lives, none were tortured? But we are not that kind of a country, when I said "waterboarding" I was not referring to it as torture. As it has not been, even Mr. McCain did say there is no law against it that even he knows of, verifing 'waterboarding' as torture. And he's pretty smart, so I think if there were a law against waterboarding, then Mr. McCain would know it.
    However, just because Valerie Plame's husband may have said (I haven't heard that one yet) Pres. Bush lied about the war, doesn't mean that Pres. Bush did.
    And I also think that Mr. Mukasey place is to stand behind his dept. And then people are going to chastise him the way they did Mr. Gonzales. What else is new besides a few players?
    I can't wait for the next election of Congress. All they have done is moan and groan and cry to the media, to anyone who would listen.
    Now its just going to be CIA's turn, to go around with Congress, Congress has tried to run every other department and its officials.
    When is America going to stand up to Congress, who's so afraid of them?

    December 7, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Oscar, Rio Vista CA

    Al from Alabama. You scare me. You may be telling the truth when you say you served in the military for 20yrs but you don't speak like the soldiers that we honor. It seems to me that you don't believe in justice. Perhaps you should go and join Blackwater where you can kill innocent civilians just for the fun of it.

    December 7, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. Robert, Morgantown WV

    "....in 1947, the United States charged a Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, with war crimes for carrying out another form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian. The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk.

    Asano was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor."

    No, it's not legal.

    December 7, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. Dale Lissner Portland Or

    FACT: The present administration approves of waterboarding as a legal means to acquire the truth.

    So.....lets have Congress have the technique publicly demonstrated... using just 3 hi profile subjects to gain the truth on dozens and dozens of nationally critical "coverups". Three names would suffice....George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove.

    Bet the freaked out half drowned rats would spill their guts out.

    Then impeachment would be a cinch !!!

    December 7, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  11. Ray Lindell, Phoenix,AZ

    Comments on US President knew nothing about interrogation tapes being destroyed.

    1. Why didn't he know? He should know.
    2. At one time "The Buck" stopped at the President's desk. I believe there is a big "U-TURN" sign there now. I feel the U-TURN on issues is getting old as well as unbielevable.

    December 7, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Aaron Smithsburg, Maryland

    If these prisoners are tried by military tribunals, like they should be, and found guilty, the CIA can do whatever they want to with them. But as it is, they are being held as enemy combatants in a war that could last a generation, we need to extract the intelligence we can get, then get them tried and get them executed for their crimes. No clerics or psychologists, just a double tap to the sternum and one to the head, nothing more, nothing less. If there isn't the evidence to convict them, force the countries they came from to acknowledge them and accept responsibility for them, and wash our hands of it. Done and done.

    December 7, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  13. ThisIsJustCrazy

    the cia destroys imformation ,tapes of audio/video paperwork as a standard of practice. this keeps field and house operatives alive and there identities safe. they imformed congress on this matter, whats the problem ?????Not everything that goes on in the cia is consperacy or orders from Bush's mouth directly, they have an important job to do, how could they possibly perform there work with out an air of secrecy ???

    Well that's one of the dumbest things I've heard in a while. When an organisation is completely opaque how can you believe anything they say or trust that they have the American people's best interests at heart? Given the CIA's track record I think you would have to be insane to think the destruction of evidence is a good thing. Withholding evidence under the blanket of "National Security" is bad enough but to actually destroy it??!! Insane!

    December 7, 2007 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  14. pam Eugene, OR

    I am a Democrat but for God sakes quit with all the hearing and get some work done. Stop all the partisan crap and accomplish something will you? You have a years worth of work to do and 2 weeks to do it. We have not gained anything by having the majority back! So what if you can find the tapes will you have two more years of hearing about it. Let's see some results for a change.

    December 7, 2007 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  15. Cammie, Baltimore, MD

    Note what John McCain says in the ticker item above:

    "I wish they had listened to members of Congress who said they should not do so (destroy the tapes)."

    And Rockefeller confirms in this story that members of Congress KNEW about the tapes. Democrat and Republican. They also KNEW that the CIA was considering destroying the tapes (per the McCain quote). This indicates that members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, were briefed on this matter and did not ORDER the CIA to preserve the tapes.

    I don't trust any of these people – what did Rockefeller and Durbin know and when did they know it? I think they are ALL protecting their own butts!!

    December 7, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  16. JAMES BOND,LA.

    THANKS CIA, THEY HAVE A JOB TO DO AND DO IT WELL!!

    December 7, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  17. Wilson, Ft Payne, AL

    I will consider that the "War on Terror" is actually being fought, when our troops are pulled out of Iraq and redeployed in Afghanistan where they can actually do the world a lot of good :anti Taliban, anti drugs, oh! and hunting for someone named Bin Laden!?
    That would just be a first step in recovering from too many lies...

    December 7, 2007 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  18. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I'm alittle unclear...I thought the congress makes drawn out speeches about nothing and overspends our tax dollars on ear marks for their states – I didn't think the CIA (nor the FBI) has any responsibility to share sensitive material with the bureaucrats ....do they?? Its not like they worked at the Rose law firm..and were under investigation and midnight shredded files less than 6 months old...wait..that was Hillary

    December 7, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  19. Brian, Philadelphia PA

    If we are to hold ourselves as the moral standard for the world, why on Earth would we treat people much more heinously than we do our own citizens?

    This "eye for an eye" act is stupidity at its worst. It's ignorance at its best.

    Be bigger than that people. If our soldiers were to be waterboarded, we'd be up in arms. For some reason though, it's perfectly fine for us to do it.

    Give me a break people...

    December 7, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  20. Mike, College Park, MD

    Why isn't anyone more outraged that no one is calling the CIA on its ridiculous rationale for actually dumping the tapes. "Protecting the interrogators"??? Being in the CIA does not exempt you from committing crimes against humanity but we seem to be hypocrites on this. As long as it's OUR SOLDIERS or OUR GOVERNMENT it must always be justified. This is just demeaning to the CIA men who out of good conscious refuse to engage in such behavior.

    December 7, 2007 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  21. mike, Coarsegold, cal

    I would like to see a hearing on what Sandy Berger stole and destroyed.

    December 7, 2007 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  22. Brenda, Boston, MA

    Everyone's show shocked the CIA could engage in a shady activities...like it's a new phenonema scripted by Bush and Co. Hellooooooooo? That's the nature of the best...what did you expect, Boy Scouts?

    December 7, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  23. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Michael Arnaud-Glen Burnie,

    "So the CIA cleans out a file cabinet and now Congress wants to have hearings."

    So? Um ... it's called destroying evidence – kinda like those millions of "lost" emails on those attorney firings. Or like those secret prisons they repeatedly denied the existence of before admitting they DID, in fact, exist.

    "I'm sorry, the peopele questioned in the tapes are terrorists."

    No, the people questioned in the tape are SUSPECTED terrorists. And maybe not even suspected terrorists at all, as far as we know.

    And it looks like we probably never will.

    Oh ... and thanks for being a MORON and showing it on this public forum.

    December 7, 2007 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  24. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    S. Wright,

    "Who is your source stating that the CIA destroyed evidence? Another "unidentified" source?"

    You obviously don't read much, or at all ... do you?

    Try CIA Director Michael Hayden ... who confirmed both the existence and the destruction of the tapes in question.

    "I've got one for you: come November 2008, your party is going to find itself out of power again."

    Right ... just like you said before the November '06 elections, that the Dems would get slaughtered right?

    Here's some free advice: stay of of the prediction business ... you suck at it!

    December 8, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  25. KEITH JAMES LOUTTIT

    Let's see... If you can't come up with a way to fix things, find a way to blame someone.

    Kudos to the 110th Congress!!! Enjoy your wonderful Health Care, at our expense, and your wonderful Pension Plans, at our expense.

    December 8, 2007 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
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