A U.S. federal judge will hold a hearing Friday into whether the Bush administration violated a court order by destroying videotaped interrogations of two suspected al-Qaida terrorists by the CIA.
U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy issued an order in 2005 for the administration to preserve all evidence related to prisoner mistreatment at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The judge is hearing a lawsuit brought on behalf of 16 detainees at Guantanamo.
The Justice Department says the tapes were not covered under the order since there was no evidence the suspects, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were questioned at Guantanamo.
President Bush said Thursday he will offer no opinion on the issue until all reviews and investigations are complete.
Investigators from the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have begun examining documents related to the videotapes. The committee has also subpoenaed Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA's clandestine branch, who is reported to have ordered the destruction of the videotapes in 2005. He is scheduled to appear before the committee January 16.
The Justice Department and CIA are conducting a joint inquiry into the incident.
The videotapes were made in 2002. CIA director Michael Hayden says they were destroyed to protect the identity of the interrogators. But critics allege they were destroyed to hide evidence of torture.
The Washington Post says the CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether a John Kiriakou, a former officer with the agency, illegally disclosed classified information in describing the interrogation techniques used on Abu Zubaydah.