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