Dec. 7, 2007 — -- ABC News has learned that at least one White House official knew about the CIA's planned destruction of videotapes in 2005 that documented the interrogation of two al Qaeda operatives: then-White House counsel Harriet Miers.
Three officials told ABC News Miers urged the CIA not to destroy the tapes.
Intelligence officials say the decision to destroy the tapes was made by Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA's covert-operations division. Even former CIA director Porter Goss did not know the tapes were destroyed. The White House said today President Bush didn't know either.
Congress is now demanding to know why the CIA destroyed those tapes, just as its interrogation methods were facing intense public scrutiny. To some prominent members of Congress there's only one explanation: a coverup.
Democratic Senate leaders compared the CIA's actions to the Watergate scandal.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., asked, "What would cause the CIA to take this action? The answer is obvious -- coverup."
"What is at stake here goes to the heart of the rule of law and justice in America," said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.
This afternoon, Durbin wrote Attorney General Michael Mukasey urging him to investigate a possible "obstruction of justice."
Members of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission also expressed concern. Co-Chairman Tom Kean said the Commission had demanded all information about the interrogations and was never told about the tapes.
"They knew what they had and they didn't give it to us," Kean said.
In a message to employees Thursday, CIA Director Michael Hayden made no apologies for the tapes' destruction insisting the decision to destroy them was "in line with the law."
In 2002, the CIA videotaped the interrogations of two terror suspects, including top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. The tapes showed what the CIA calls "enhanced interrogation techniques," methods which critics call torture.
In February 2003, the CIA says it told the leaders of congressional intelligence committees about the tapes and that it planned to destroy them.
On Nov. 2, 2005, the Washington Post detailed the CIA's secret prison program known as "black sites." It was November 2005 that the CIA destroyed the tapes.
Hayden said the tapes were destroyed because "they were no longer of intelligence value" and that they posed "a serious security risk" because if leaked, they'd reveal the identity of covert CIA agents.
Kennedy objected to that explanation: "That excuse won't wash ... How is it possible that the director of the CIA has so little faith in his own agency?"