Lawmaker told CIA not to destroy tapes

(AP)- The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee warned in a 2003 letter that destroying videotapes of terrorist interrogations would put the CIA under a cloud of suspicion, according to a newly declassified copy of the letter.

"Even if the videotape does not constitute an official record that must be preserved under the law, the videotape would be the best proof that the written record is accurate, if such record is called into question in the future," Rep. Jane Harman, D- Calif ., wrote in a Feb. 10, 2003 letter to then-CIA general counsel Scott Muller. "The fact of destruction would reflect badly on the agency."

Harman's office released the declassified letter on Thursday, a day after the Justice Department announced it had opened a criminal investigation into the destruction of the tapes. The letter notes that a copy also went to then-CIA Director George Tenet.

Last month, the CIA acknowledged destroying videos showing the harsh interrogation of two top al- Qaida suspects - Abu Zubaydah and Abd al- Rahim al- Nashiri .

CIA Director Michael Hayden said the videos, which were made in 2002, were destroyed in 2005 out of fear the tapes would leak and reveal the identities of interrogators. Hayden said the sessions were videotaped to provide an added layer of legal protection for officers using tough interrogation methods authorized by President Bush to help break down recalcitrant prisoners.

Harman's letter, sent when memories of the 2001 terrorist attacks were still fresh, acknowledges that the CIA was faced with balancing security and liberty while protecting the country from another attack. But in a reference to the harsh interrogations, she asked Muller "whether the most senior levels of the White House have determined that these practices are consistent with the principles and policies of the United States. Have enhanced techniques been authorized and approved by the president?"

In his response to Harman's letter, Muller did not address her concerns about destroying the tapes. Instead, he reassured her that the interrogation techniques used were legal. And he added: "I think it would be fair to assume that policy as well as legal matters have been addressed within the Executive Branch."

The CIA declassified Harman's 2003 letter so that she could speak publicly about her concerns then and now. At the time, Harman was the senior Democrat on the intelligence panel.

Harman was one of several officials who recommended against destroying the tapes. One official familiar with the investigation said Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House counsel and then attorney general, advised against destroying the videotapes. Another administration attorney, John Bellinger , then a lawyer at the National Security Council, has told colleagues that administration lawyers who discussed the matter in 2003 came to a consensus that the tapes should not be destroyed, said a senior official familiar with Bellinger's account of the 2003 White House discussion. "The recommendation in 2003 from the White House was that the tapes should not be destroyed," the official said.

President Bush has said his "first recollection" of being told about the tapes and their destruction was when Hayden briefed him about it last month.

House Intelligence committee Chairman Sylvestre Reyes, D-Texas, has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 16, at which he plans to question Jose Rodriguez, the former head of the CIA's National Clandestine Service who ordered the tapes destroyed, and acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed John Durham, a veteran federal prosecutor in Connecticut, to oversee a full criminal investigation that could further challenge the Bush administration's handling of terrorism suspects.

Durham, a 25-year veteran of the Justice Department, has a reputation as one of the nation's most relentless prosecutors. He was appointed to investigate the FBI's use of mob informants in Boston, a probe that sent former FBI agent John Connolly to prison.

Prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia, which includes the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Va., had removed themselves from the case. CIA Inspector General John L. Helgerson , who worked with the Justice Department on the preliminary inquiry, also removed himself.

"The Justice Department went out and got somebody with complete independence and integrity," said former Connecticut U.S. Attorney Stanley Twardy , who worked with Durham. "No politics whatsoever. It's going to be completely by the book and he's going to let the chips fall where they may."

Durham gained national prominence following the 1989 murder of Mafia underboss William Grasso , which led to one of the biggest mob takedowns in U.S history. He then turned to Connecticut street gangs, winning dozens of convictions and putting some gang leaders in jail for life. Former Attorney General Janet Reno hand-picked Durham to lead the investigation into the FBI's use of mob informants in Boston.

Durham, a Republican, has shown no tolerance for corruption in either party. He supervised the corruption investigation that sent former Republican Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland and several members of his administration to prison.

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan agree more than 40 km of state border
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan agree more than 40 km of state border
Kyrgyzstan, Japan discuss cooperation in IT sphere
Kyrgyzstan, Japan discuss cooperation in IT sphere
Kyrgyzstan passes peak of third coronavirus wave
Kyrgyzstan passes peak of third coronavirus wave
Loading Bars
Latest
Japan to expand state of emergency as COVID-19 shadows Olympics
U.S. Congress passes $2.1 billion for Capitol Police and Afghans
Turkey reports 22,161 daily COVID-19 cases
5.5-magnitude quake hits 146 km SE of Chignik, Alaska
Information on allegedly shot down two UAVs of the Azerbaijani army - false - MoD
Syrian rebels attack army outposts in southern Syria
Reports of repeated incidents along Armenia-Azerbaijan border causes grave concern - OSCE Chairperson
Turkey sees growth in number of registered companies with Iranian capital
Portugal to ease COVID-19 restrictions in phases
Israel to offer 3rd coronavirus booster to elders: PM
Iran exports to Iraq up 54% in 3 months
Georgia ranks 10th in terms of COVID-19 cases per residents
Uzbekistan's Central Bank remains main rate unchanged
Turkmenistan introduces ban on sale of electronic cigarettes
COVID-19 cases climb amid calls for vaccinations in Turkey
Baku holds Week of Diplomacy closing ceremony organized by Foreign Ministry, ADA University (PHOTO)
Oklahoma governor views work within "smart village" project in Azerbaijan’s Zangilan (PHOTO)
OSCE MG co-chairs concerned with recent incidents along Armenia-Azerbaijan state border
Egyptian journalists write articles after visit to liberated lands of Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Central Bank of Azerbaijan to keep interest rate at same level - analyst
Over 190 people used services of social rehabilitation organizations in Azerbaijan since early 2021
Iran boosts exports to Iraq
Oklahoma governor, his family members walk throughout Azerbaijan’s Baku city (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani ministry to consider problems related to internet
Liabilities of Azerbaijan's Kapital Bank increases over 2Q2021
Kazakhstan implementing projects in free economic zone
Russia agrees to work on creating oil and gas cluster in Uzbekistan
Israel interested in establishing long-term co-op with Uzbek textile manufacturers
Baku Metro building powerful ventilation infrastructure
SOCAR to be engaged in building Switzerland’s largest green hydrogen plant
Azerbaijan's AzerGold discloses timing of iron ore production at Dashkasan deposit
Turkmenistan, Qatar interested in building up trade, economic ties
Data on 1H2021 cargo, passenger traffic at Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport disclosed
Kazakhstan, Russia's Tatarstan discuss potential projects related to Islamic halal products
France calls UK quarantine rules discriminatory, excessive
Ministry in Uzbekistan opens tender for garages construction
Azerbaijan's Kapital Bank notes increase in assets within 2Q2021
Kazakhstan increases petroleum oil exports to Romania despite COVID-19
Kazakhstan, Russia discuss 'green corridor' for or moving agricultural goods
Moscow court fines Google over $40,000 for refusing to localize users’ data in Russia
Azerbaijan's Kapital Bank completes 2Q2021 with profit
Georgia reveals amount of food products import from Turkmenistan
Israel to offer Pfizer booster shots to people over 60
Uzbekistan launches construction of copper processing plant
Kazakhstan ready to expand non-commodity exports to Russia's Tatarstan
EBRD names date of approval of loan for waste management project in Azerbaijan's Ganja
Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan agree to further co-op on Dostlug field
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens for July 29
Azerbaijan confirms 615 more COVID-19 cases, 181 recoveries
Big Tech starts requiring vaccines; Twitter closes re-opened U.S. offices
Iraqi army helicopter crash kills five
Chandrayaan-3 likely to be launched during third quarter of 2022
Buta Airways to Increase the Number of Flights to Izmir
Riskified begins trading on NYSE today at $3.3b valuation
Oklahoma State National Guard delegation continues to visit Azerbaijan (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Kazakh oil refinery opens tender to buy UPS
European Investment Bank signs advisory agreement with Hydrogen Europe
Azerbaijan's AzerGold reveals potentially usable, economically efficient ores at Dashkasan deposit
Iran launches new railway lines in four provinces
Turkey discloses number of military vehicles transported through its ports since early 2021
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan agree more than 40 km of state border
Uzbeki ERIELL Group eyes resuming drilling at Garraf oil field in Iraq
Largest tunnel in Iran’s Tehran-Shomal Freeway put into operation
Azerbaijan opens new military unit in liberated Khojaly (PHOTO/VIDEO)
EU signs deal with GSK for supply of potential COVID drug
Turkey discloses traffic stats for 6M2021 at new Istanbul airport
Russia records 23,270 new daily COVID-19 cases
Azerbaijan, S.Korea reached some agreements on reconstruction projects - ambassador
Georgia names volume of exports of various liquid foods to Turkmenistan
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls on Modi
Canada sees increase in inorganic chemicals imports from Uzbekistan (Exclusive)
Biden administration determined to continue stronger India-US ties: Blinken
Ministry discloses volume of metallurgical products transported through Turkish ports
Russia makes efforts to restore ceasefire regime on Armenian-Azerbaijani border - official
Armenians left not one intact building in liberated Aghdam - official
How many vehicles Turkish ports handled in 1H2021?
Death toll from COVID-19 in Iran exceeds 90,000 people
Iran's Rasht-Caspian railway project progressing
Hilton posts quarterly profit on recovery in leisure travel demand
Ministry discloses volume of oil products transported through Turkish ports
Turkey unveils 1H2021 data on shipment of agricultural products via local ports
Length of Iran's railway lines to increase – minister
Chinese companies may finance Iran's Shiraz-Bushehr railway project
International Bank of Azerbaijan completes 2Q2021 with net profit
Iran to host foreign reps for president-elect Raisi' inauguration
Turkmenistan exports its coffee to Russia
Iran Air to increase amount of flights to France
Ukrainian energy ministry updates on progress in Euro-Asian oil transport corridor project
Turkic World media platform now available in two more languages (PHOTO)
Uzbekistan reveals 1H2021 data on exports of fruit, vegetables
Georgia reveals COVID-19 data for July 29
Azerbaijan’s representative offices in Israel - important platforms for expanding business contacts, minister says
Foreign currency demand of Azerbaijani banks declines
Azerbaijani historical, architectural monuments destroyed during Armenian occupation - Academy of Sciences
Weapons, ammunition found in Azerbaijan’s Khojaly district
New prospects for economic cooperation opened between S.Korea, Azerbaijan - ambassador
Meet Alumni of British School in Baku
Database and co-op expanding to intensify work of Azerbaijani-Israeli commission - minister (PHOTO)
Baku court announces verdict to members of Armenian sabotage group
Turkmen Energy Ministry extends tender for power plant construction
All news