December 7th, 2007
12:29 PM ET
15 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. Lee Columbus Ohio

    I think this one big head game, If stop and think about it, This story is being used for a reason? I mean all this was out years ago.We done knew about this stuff. So could the reason be?

    December 8, 2007 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  2. CT, Fairfax, VA

    Here we go again...Clinton basically pulls the rug out from under the CIA, perhaps being responsible for the poor intelligence leading to 9/11. Post 9/11, the CIA is given its teeth back, but the Democrats insist on keeping the operations of the CIA in public scrutiny with open debates about water boarding, torture, secret camps, and now destroyed evidence. I see a need for oversignt, but why can't the Congressional investigations be conducted behind closed doors? They're open because the Democrats are grandstanding again...using every means to make the opposition look bad. Meanwhile, our intelligence community is "walking on eggs" again, weakened and demoralized. They are also giving the impression to the American public that the "misbehavior" of the CIA is only a recent phenonema and a reflection of a corrupt Administration....which is a lie in itself.

    December 8, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. Mac, Severn, Md

    WTOP radio in Washington, DC quotes Dick Durbin:

    CIA officials "withheld information about their (tapes) existence from official proceedings".

    In the same article, Jay Rockefeller says that the Senate Intelligence Commitee knew about the tapes in 2005.

    Dick Durbin is a liar.

    December 8, 2007 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. Brian, Orlando, Florida

    Fight terrorists by becoming terrorists ourselves. We'll show the world!

    December 8, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Ray Spix



    December 8, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  6. EB Tennessee

    Are we really to believe that Bush and Cheney just learned not only that these tapes were destroyed but that they even exsited this past week! The cover ups will get them one of these times.

    December 8, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Christopher, waterboard Bush, Madison, WI

    Maybe I am wrong, but why would this be considered evidence? As far as I know, waterboarding has never been classified as 'torture'. I'm sure it could be included, but so far has not been included in any definition of torture that exists as law today. So what's the big deal? The CIA routinely destroys documents, tapes, etc.

    I'm afraid I can't jump on the conspiracy bandwagon that the media likes to trump up on a regular basis.
    Posted By Ben, St. Louis : December 7, 2007 1:23 pm

    But then again you're from Missouri so enough said.

    December 8, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. K Mansfield, Richardson, TX

    CT from Fairfax, 911 was Clintons fault?
    Is this you Carl-the turd blossom – Rove? You also said it was the Democrats that were in a hurry to get to war in Iraq so they pushed the vote through much earlier – or we would've waited for the IRAQ weapens inspectors to finish and maybe we wouldn't have gone.. You're so funny..

    December 8, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    James Bond, I like that...cute. The CIA did what they should do, and now we have show number what? I can't keep track of all of Congress's bull....I think their only problem is they don't know the things the CIA does, and they can't stand it. the CIA is one agency that works to protect America and the people in it, and what they do to get that information, should be whatever their little hearts desire. CIA did do a great job, didn't they?
    Someone said that Congress is bought and paid for, makes a person wonder whos footing that bill!!

    December 8, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |


    December 8, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  11. Cammie, Baltimore, MD

    Read today's (December 9, 2007) Washington Post – front page.

    Members of Congress (including Nancy Pelosi) were briefed in 2002 by the CIA on interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. They did not object. Members of Congress also knew about the tapes AND the intention to destroy the tapes.

    I am tired of these politicians who, when the going gets tough, either LIE to the American public or claim to be "outraged" at what the CIA is doing. These are members of CONGRESS who are LYING. Dick Durbin says Congress was not informed? He is lying to advance his own political agenda. Carl Levin is just as bad.

    We ask people in the CIA to do some jobs that are not pleasant. They absolutely deserve to be protected for doing their job to keep us safe.

    December 9, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  12. JFK, Phx, AZ

    Here we go again, more lies and deceit! If it were the only story coming out of this administration I guess I would not be so worried. But everything they do is clouded by lies, deceit, cover-ups. We defend torture methods when we used to claim humane treatment. We used to have wars (Iraq) with a clear objective. Everything Bush does is unclear and frankly suspicious. This administration has overreached its power many times and no one does anything. This just goes to show that we are living with a President that operates on his own without any regard our Constitution and the American people. That is just as dangerous to Americans as any outside forces...

    December 9, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  13. David Linkenheimer

    The so called "War On Terror" is a fraud perpetrated to gain control of the new gold a.k.a. OIL...
    The so called "Terrorists" just may be freedom fighters resisting an armed takeover by those multi-national corporations who enjoy the U.S. Military's contribution towards subduing the local population.
    To the locals it may seem that we, America, is another colonial power bent on plundering their reasourses under the guise of spreading Democracy.
    The first order of business seems to be kill or imprison all of those individuals who do not want to be democrats; or other wise resist the invasion and agressive war.
    It does not suprise me that the CIA resorts to torture or worse and seeks to hide the evidence of their crimes; the administration makes a mockery of the so called "Rule of Law" as a matter of policy.
    "Opperation Iraqi Freedom" ha... what is it that they (the Iraqis)will be free to do... We here in this so called "free country" need the express written consent of the government in the form of license and permit for every thing.
    The system of License and Priviledge is the way of the Mother Country; (our ally) we had a revolution to free ourselve but the Torries by guile and deciet have reestablished their control.
    Saddam was planning to dump the good old "fiat dollar" and demand "euros" and this was the thing that sealed his fait.
    No amount of propaganda is going to subvert the truth. Viva the Internet...

    December 9, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  14. Cammie, Baltimore, MD

    JFK in Phoenix:

    Please read today's Washington Post front page (

    Members of Congress (including Nancy Pelosi) were briefed by the CIA in 2002 about interrogration techniques (including waterboarding) and did NOT object. They were also told that the CIA was considering destroying the tapes.

    Congress had all this information. There is no "coverup" by the CIA or the Administration. There is no disregard for the Constitution.

    Members of Congress today who say that Congress did not know are LYING. And their "indignation" is political gamesmanship.

    Congress just appears to be a shameful bunch of fools that spend most of their time planning schemes (scams?)to advance thier political agenda.

    I am SO fed up with them!!!

    December 9, 2007 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  15. Kristy Sanborn, Buckhorn, Mo.

    to Steve from 'lyons CO', ok, we'll play that game. Ben seems by your words "buffuddled by all of the illegality we've 'seen' out of these 'criminals'"
    you are actually calling the CIA "criminals"...
    Hope they didn't miss that one!
    As Robert said from 'morgantown' in 1947, "another form of", says it all. another form from what CIA was using in this issue.
    And yes, I did hear the latest this morning, congress was briefed back then and even "encouraged" by report of cnn today, the waterboarding technique.
    How do we know what the CIA knows? or the FBI, etc? How do we know that something that these terrorists they were interigating didn't say something that has given them the leads they need to keep another 9/11 from occuring since?
    Its not our place, or Congress's place to know every little secret intelligence piece of information these agencies recieve.
    And it isn't the place of Americans to call the CIA "criminals", or to almost cross that line, like Steve from 'lyons' CO did.
    That is one thing that is wrong with our country, our secret intelligence agencies do their jobs, and then get attacked for it.

    December 9, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. JFK, Phx, AZ

    Cammie in Baltimore, if you paid attention to the last seven years you would see we were all led into this war on false pretenses. Your right, maybe Congress did not pay close enough attention at that time to the goings on with the CIA. But that makes them guilty of not asking for more information and demanding better answers. Far as I can tell, whether they went along with it during a time we believed we were right or what we all thought was a true war of 'us versus them', its time we get straight answers. The current answer of, "I have no recollection" of this or that is not sufficient. Thats all we ever get from the administration on everything. The Congress is not totally without some blame but many voted on this war with the understanding the intelligence reports were reliable. Our intelligence was not reliable as we all know. WHY? So why should continue to look the other way on this too? If we continue to blame each other which is what this administration wants, then we never get answers. While you can be fed up with Congress, I am far more fed up with this administration!

    December 9, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. Cammie, Baltimore, MD

    JFK in Phoenix:

    Good morning. I am not talking about the war. I am talking about CIA interrogation techniques, the taping of interrogations, and destroying the tapes.

    Members of Congress knew about the interrogation techniques being employed. According to the WashPost article, the CIA provided 30 briefings over 5 years to Congress about the techniques used and the results (i.e., what was learned). The briefings were to a very small group of people (if you want to keep a secret in Washington, you'd better not tell too many people or it will be on the front page of tomorrow's newspaper!!). A lot of people are thinking this was some sort of Bush Administration secret. It was not.

    It was also known that there were tapes of interrogations and that the CIA was considering destroying the tapes. Both the Justice Department and the White House advised the CIA to not destroy the tapes. According to things said by John McCain, members of Congress advised the CIA to not destroy the tapes.

    The CIA decided to destroy the tapes. Before I jump all over them, I need to look at the timing and the reasons for that action. I need to know what was on the tapes. As some here have said, you can blot out faces, but what about the audio? What is being said? I cannot make a judgement without getting facts.

    That's what ticks me off about ALL of Congress. Republican, Democrat, Independent. A story hits the news and they immediately get their "sound bytes" out there before they know the facts. And they say things that are not correct because they don't get the facts first. I've gotten to where I can't believe what any of them say. Both sides.

    December 9, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  18. Travis Washington State

    Rockefeller is out and out lying. He was one of a few known Senators who were briefed about the CIA's waterboarding back in 2002, more than 5 YEARS AGO. He raised no objections about the process then, he is now lying to cover his ass. The evidence can be found here:

    December 9, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
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