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Inquiry into destroyed C.I.A. interrogation tapes

The Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency’s internal watchdog began a joint preliminary inquiry on Saturday into the spy agency’s destruction of hundreds of hours of videotapes showing interrogations of top operatives of Al Qaeda.
The videotapes, which were destroyed in November 2005, depict severe interrogation methods used on two Qaeda suspects, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
Questions are being asked about which officials inside the C.I.A. decided to destroy the tapes. The agency operative who ordered the destruction of the tapes was Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.’s national clandestine service. The New York Times reported that on Saturday, a government official who had spoken recently with Rodriguez said that Rodriguez told him that he had received approval from lawyers inside the agency to destroy the tapes.
According to the New York Times: “Officials have acknowledged that the destruction of evidence like videotaped interrogations could raise questions about whether the C.I.A. was seeking to hide evidence of coercion.?
The BBC said that the C.I.A. director, Gen. Michael Hayden, told fellow C.I.A. employees in an earlier internal memo that they had begun taping interrogations as an internal check in 2002 and decided to delete the videos because they no longer had “intelligence value? and posed a security threat.
Investigators will gather information to try to determine whether a full inquiry is needed. If they determine that any agency employees broke the law, the C.I.A. inspector general, John Helgerson, would issue a criminal referral to the Justice Department, according to standard procedure.

The New York Times: