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Ex-White House Aide Knew of CIA Plans to Destroy Interrogation Tapes


U.S. news agencies say the CIA was advised by a former senior White House official not to destroy videotaped interrogations of terror suspects.

The reports say former counsel Harriet Miers urged the intelligence agency to preserve the tapes before they were destroyed in 2005. The New York Times says officials in the Justice Department, along with some senior members of Congress, also advised the CIA to keep the tapes.

The videotapes were ordered destroyed by Jose Rodriguez, who was then in charge of the CIA's covert operations division. The Times says he did so without informing the CIA's legal counsel.

The incident has angered Democratic Party lawmakers, who have promised to hold hearings on the matter. The Senate's second-ranked Democrat, Richard Durbin of Illinois, is asking Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate whether the CIA obstructed justice.

CIA Director Michael Hayden admitted in a message to staffers on Thursday that the agency destroyed the tapes. Hayden said they were disposed of to protect the identity of the interrogators, and he insisted that appropriate members of Congress had been informed.

Several lawmakers dispute they were told about the destruction.

The tapes were destroyed at a time when human rights activists, Congress and U.S. courts were demanding answers about the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program.

Hayden said the taping began in 2002 after President Bush approved what the administration called "enhanced" interrogation methods by the CIA for terror suspects. Those methods are said to have included waterboarding, or controlled drowning, which critics denounce as torture.

The U.S. military and CIA now ban the technique.

Suspected al-Qaida leader Abu Zubaydah was one of at least two suspects whose interrogations were videotaped.

A White House spokeswoman said Friday that President Bush has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction until Thursday when the matter became public.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.