A day after The New York Times released its explosive report that at least two videotapes showing CIA agents using severe interrogation tactics (that most nefarious of euphemisms) on terror suspects, congressional Democrats are registering their extreme displeasure and calling for an official investigation into what Sen. Edward Kennedy slammed as a “cover-up.”
The New York Times:
“We haven’t seen anything like this since the 18½ -minute gap on the tapes of Richard Nixon,” Mr. Kennedy said in a speech on the Senate floor, as reaction to the disclosure about the videotapes seemed to intensify minute by minute.
[Sen. Richard] Durbin, the Democratic whip, said he had written [Attorney General Michael] Mukasey to ask for an inquiry into “whether C.I.A. officials who destroyed these videotapes and withheld information about their existence from official proceedings violated the law.”
The speeches by Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Durbin followed an angry statement by Representative Jane Harman of California, head of the Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence and terrorism risk assessment. Ms. Harman, who was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee in early 2003, said she cautioned C.I.A. officials then not to destroy any videotapes pertaining to interrogation practices.
“To my knowledge, the Intelligence Committee was never informed that any videotapes had been destroyed,” Ms. Harman said. “Surely I was not.”
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Mr. Mukasey and the C.I.A. director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, today asking whether the Justice Department advised the C.I.A. on the destruction of the videotapes, and whether the department was now contemplating an investigation into possible obstruction of justice.
Sen. Edward Kennedy was one of several Democrats to blast the CIA for reportedly destroying key videotapes, potentially compromising the accuracy of the 9/11 Commission’s findings.