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Lawmakers Vow to Press Ahead CIA Videotape Probes


U.S. lawmakers have vowed to press ahead with investigations into the CIA's destruction of interrogation videotapes.

Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers Sunday criticized what they say are attempts by the executive branch to block their probes.

Interviewed on the television program Fox News Sunday, Representative Jane Harman said that she had personally warned the CIA not to destroy the tapes. She said the Justice Department's request that Congress delay its investigation, in her words, "smells like a cover-up of the cover-up."

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, speaking on the same program, also dismissed the request for the delay, and said the U.S. intelligence community is incompetent, arrogant and political.

On CNN, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden repeated his call for an independent counsel to be appointed to investigate the matter. Biden said one part of the executive branch investigating another is a conflict of interest.

Both the CIA and Justice Department belong to the executive branch of the U.S. government and are headed by presidential appointees.

On Friday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote to the top lawmakers on the Senate and House Judiciary Committees saying he will not give Congress records of the government's investigation into the destruction of the videotapes. He said the Justice Department does not provide non-public information about pending matters.

He also said he will not appoint a special prosecutor because he sees no reason the Justice Department cannot conduct an impartial investigation.

CIA Director Michael Hayden says the videotapes were destroyed in 2005 to protect the identity of the interrogators. Critics say they were destroyed to hide evidence of illegal torture of suspected terrorists.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.