December 7, 2007

Reyes, Hoekstra Call Shenanigans On Hayden

Michael Hayden tried last night to defuse the controversy over the 2005 destruction of videotapes depicting the waterboarding of al-Qaeda terrorists by claiming that the CIA had worked with Congress in doing so. Not so fast, say Silvestre Reyes and Pete Hoekstra. Hoekstra chaired the House Intelligence Committee and Reyes took over Jane Harman's position on the committee -- and neither have any recollection that the CIA notified them at all:

The CIA did not tell Congress about the destruction in 2005 of videotapes recording aggressive CIA interrogations of two Al Qaeda suspects until this year, the top two members of the House Intelligence Committee said in an angry letter Friday to CIA Director Michael V. Hayden.

Anticipating an upcoming New York Times article revealing the destruction, Hayden said in a memo to employees on Thursday that congressional oversight committees had been notified about the existence of the tapes and plans to get rid of them.

"Based upon available records and our best recollection, this simply is not true," said a joint letter from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) and the committee's ranking member and former chairman, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.).

Hayden just made this exponentially worse. The CIA Director did not have this position in 2005; he did not get confirmed into his office until 2006. Porter Goss ran the CIA from September 2004 to May 2006, and the destruction took place on his watch. Why Hayden decided to offer that claim without double-checking with Hoekstra and Jane Harman is a question only he can answer -- and Congress will likely be asking it very, very soon.

Hoekstra is no bleeding-heart liberal. He's a tough conservative who supports the war on terror. I've interviewed him, and he has a deep commitment to allowing the intel community to do its work -- but he also believes in the oversight necessary to ensure that the public trust placed in the intelligence community does not get abused. He doesn't send angry public letters demanding explanations of CIA officials unless he believes it necessary to do so.

Those who are inclined to shrug this off should rethink their positions. The action of the CIA not only shows disrespect to Congress, the only real check on potential abuse, it may have provided the basis for overturning an important conviction in the war on terror. In a nation based on the rule of law, we cannot allow government officials in positions of power to make up their own rules as they go along. We certainly cannot abide them disseminating false information as Hayden apparently has.


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» Bush: No Recollection of Being Made Aware of Any Tapes from Buck Naked Politics
Posted by Damozel | All together now: What did Bush know, and when did he know it? President Bush has no recollection of anyone telling him about any CIA tapes showing severe interrogation of detainees (a/k/a torture) or of being told that any CIA tape... [Read More]