Congress Prepares Supboenas for CIA Officials Over Tapes

The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, directed the Committee to prepare subpoenas to seek testimony about the CIA destroying the interrogation tapes of two al Qaeda operatives.

According to an aide to Rep. Reyes some subpoenas have already been completed. The subpoenas include requests for Acting General Counsel John Rizzo and former CIA Operations Chief Jose Rodriguez to testify before the Committee.

The tapes in question were made during the interrogation sessions of al Qaeda terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Rahim al-Nashiri and may have included recordings of the use of waterboarding. It was Rodriguez who ordered that the tapes be destroyed in late November 2005.

The subpoenas also include requests for documents relating to the tape's destruction. According to an aide to Rep. Reyes, CIA staff met with the Committee yesterday and were shown copies of the subpoenas.

Under the Committee's rules, the Chairman can authorize and issue the subpoenas, it would not require a committee vote. According to one staffer and a U.S. official, the CIA appears to be willing to produce some documents for the Committee and this could begin in the next several days.

Asked about the subpoenas CIA spokesman George Little said Wednesday evening, "Director Hayden has said the agency will cooperate fully with the preliminary inquiry conducted by the Department of Justice and the CIA's Inspector General, and with the Congress. That has been, and certainly still is, the case. The agency has been in touch with congressional committees on the matter, and looks forward to working it out."

The development of the subpoenas comes at a time when the Justice Department's National Security Division has only begun to work on their inquiry into the destruction of the tapes.

In a joint letter to the House Intelligence Committee last week, the Justice Department and the CIA asked that the Committee ease the pace of their investigation. "We fully appreciate the committee's oversight interest in this matter but want to advise you of our concerns that action responsive to your requests would present significant risks to our preliminary inquiry."

"We ask for your indulgence in this matter in order to assure our best opportunity to develop those facts and evaluate them in light of the relevant law." The letter from Ken Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division and John Helgerson, CIA Inspector General noted. The two also pledged to advise the Committee on the status of their inquiry.