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CIA Tapes Re-ignite Debate on Interrogation Tactics

Congressional Democrats called for an investigation Friday into whether
a CIA decision in 2005 to destroy video tapes of the interrogations of two top terror suspects constitutes an obstruction of justice. Analysts offer insight on the potential fallout of the handling of the tapes.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    The interrogation tapes. Ray Suarez has our story.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Did the CIA mishandle the videotapes of interrogations of senior al-Qaida members? For that, we get two views.

    Mark Lowenthal was assistant director of central intelligence for analysis and production from 2002 to 2005 and served on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee. He's now president of the Intelligence and Security Academy, which provides training in analysis for the government.

    And Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, he served at the State Department and on the National Security Council staff in the Clinton administration.

    Mark Lowenthal, what was your reaction to news that tapes of al-Qaida interrogations had been destroyed?

    MARK LOWENTHAL, President, Intelligence and Security Academy: My initial reaction was that they just made a terrible blunder. I'm not sure if they did something illegal, but it — my first reaction was it was going to play out the way it's played out, that it just — it creates a feeding frenzy over the fact that they had done it.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    You were at the agency in the years that these interrogations were being done. What's your sense of who had to know before something like this did happen?

  • MARK LOWENTHAL:

    Well, clearly, according to the statement that was released by Director Hayden, the DDO, the deputy director of operations, Jose Rodriguez, knew and gave the order. Apparently, the director at the time, Porter Goss, did not know, according to press accounts.

    So probably not that many people would have known. I'm sure somebody had a conversation with somebody else, but it could have been a very small group of people who knew about the decision.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Tom Malinowski, your reaction to the news?

  • TOM MALINOWSKI, Human Rights Watch:

    Well, it's beginning to look like the Watergate of waterboarding, very embarrassing, obviously, for the administration.

    Clearly, the people who did this understood at some level that these tapes were potentially dynamite, that they portrayed something that most ordinary people would have considered to be awful, had they seen it actually on a videotape rather than simply reading about it in the newspaper.