[JURIST] Lawyers from the CIA's clandestine operations branch, formerly known as the Directorate of Operations, provided written approval for the CIA's destruction of videotapes [JURIST report] showing the interrogation of terror suspects, the New York Times reported Tuesday. According to the Times' source, a former CIA official speaking on the condition of anonymity, discussions about destroying the videotapes lasted close to two years. The tapes were destoryed after the CIA legal opinion was offered, despite advice from the White House and Justice Department warning against the destruction of the tapes [JURIST report]. Then-CIA General Counsel John Rizzo participated in the discussions, but was not asked to provide final approval authorizing the tapes' destruction. The Times' source said that at no time did CIA receive direct instructions from the Justice Department or White House not to destroy the tapes.
CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged [statement text] last week that the CIA had videotaped the interrogation of two terror suspects in 2002, but said that the tapes had been destroyed in 2005 amid concerns that they could be leaked to the public and compromise the identities of the interrogators. Several investigations into the tapes' destruction have been launched, including a joint DOJ-CIA preliminary investigation [DOJ letter; JURIST report] and multiple congressional inquiries. Hayden is scheduled to appear during a closed Senate Intelligence Committee briefing Tuesday. The New York Times has more.