Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Taking the fall

Hopefully, nobody but nonsensical Republican lawmakers are going to buy the Bush administration's latest gambit to blame the 2005 destruction of videotapes of two al-Qaida suspects on a newly retired CIA official. Today's comments by Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, that Jose Rodriguez, the CIA's former head of clandestine operations, "hadn't gotten authority from anyone" before he allegedly ordered the destruction of the tapes are preposterous. Rodriguez, who retired earlier this month, is taking the fall for the Bush administration's malfeasance. We already know that higher-ups in the White House knew about the tapes and were involved in discussions over whether to destroy them. There doesn't appear to be much question about the involvement of President Bush or Vice President Cheney or both. All that's missing is the smoking gun, as it were. Today, the committee took closed-door testimony from acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo, who said he advised against destroying the tapes, which reportedly show the use of "enhanced" techniques to get the suspects to talk. Rodriguez has refused to testify without immunity — a technical matter that can either be worked out or he can apply for another of those Bush pardons. The existence of the tapes, as we know, was not revealed to the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks or to federal judges who demanded evidence from the government for trials.

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