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White House lawyers took part in debate on destroying CIA interrogation videos: NYT

[JURIST] At least four White House lawyers participated in discussions about whether the CIA should destroy videotapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects [JURIST news archive], the New York Times reported Wednesday. It had previously been reported that Harriet Miers, who became White House counsel in 2005, had participated in internal discussions on what to do with the interrogation videos, but based on information from former and current administration and intelligence officials, the Times reported that Alberto Gonzales, who served as White House Counsel before becoming attorney general in 2005, former counsel to the vice president and his current chief of staff David Addington, and John Bellinger, formerly the top lawyer at the National Security Council and currently the State Department's legal adviser, also took part in the discussions. It is not clear whether the lawyers supported destroying the videotapes; Miers reportedly was opposed to their destruction. The Times' sources also said that the order to destroy the tapes came from the former head of the CIA's clandestine branch, Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., who was acting on the written legal advice by two CIA lawyers [JURIST report]. Rodriguez did not tell acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo or then-Director Porter Goss before he issued the order. The New York Times has more.

Current CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged [statement text] earlier this month that the CIA had videotaped the interrogation of two al Qaeda 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 have been launched into the tapes' destruction, including a joint DOJ-CIA preliminary investigation [JURIST report] and multiple congressional inquiries.

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