Porter Goss, then the head of the CIA, said at the time that he agreed, after the fact, with the agency’s 2005 decision to destroy videotapes showing brutal interrogations — and even joked wryly about the issue, new documents released yesterday by the CIA suggest.
Goss told Jose Rodriguez, then the head of the CIA’s clandestine service and the official who ordered the destruction of the tapes, that he “agreed” with the move, according to a CIA email message, reports the New York Times. “PG laughed and said that actually, it would be he, PG, who would take the heat.”
The emails and other documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU. The destruction of the 92 tapes — which showed the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri, two top al Qeada suspects — is the subject of a Justice Department criminal investigation.
A spokesperson for Goss did not respond to the Times’s request for comment.
Other nuggets revealed in the documents:
A deputy to Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, then the CIA’s number three official, wrote to Foggo that Foggo’s deputy wrote that Rodriguez had destroyed the tapes because “the heat from destroying is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain — he said that out of context they would make us look terrible; it would be ‘devastating’ to us.”
Foggo is currently serving a prison sentence after being convicted of bribery in a case connected to that of former congressman Randy Cunningham.
And, then-White House counsel Harriet Miers was “livid” after being told that the tapes had been destroyed, according to one email.
The Washington Post notes, intriguingly, that the cable ordering the destruction of the tapes was first drafted by someone who remains undercover, “and has been one of the subjects of Durham’s investigation.”
The Post also grants anonymity to an unnamed government official who downplays the whole saga — and uses the quote in the third paragraph of its story.
“There may have been some people who thought precise procedure wasn’t followed, but I haven’t heard of anyone who believed at the time that any law had been broken. That’s quite a different thing,” says the official.