[JURIST] US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Wednesday that the Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation [press release] into the CIA's destruction of videotapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects [JURIST news archive]. The decision to launch a criminal probe follows the joint DOJ-CIA preliminary inquiry [JURIST report] conducted by the DOJ National Security Division and the CIA's Office of Inspector General. Mukasey has asked John Durham, the first assistant United States attorney in the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut, to head the investigation.
Existence of the videotapes was verified in November after the CIA admitted it had mistakenly denied [JURIST report] that it had recorded interrogations in a court declaration during the trial of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged [statement text] last 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. In addition to the DOJ investigation, multiple congressional inquiries have been launched into the tapes' destruction. AP has more.