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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Inquiries Promised In CIA Scandal

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Justice Department and the CIA's internal watchdog have announced a joint inquiry into the spy agency's destruction of videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists, as the latest scandal to rock U.S. intelligence gathered steam.

The review will determine whether a full investigation is warranted.

"I welcome this inquiry and the CIA will cooperate fully," CIA chief Michael Hayden said in a statement Saturday. "I welcome it as an opportunity to address questions that have arisen over the destruction back in 2005 of videotapes."

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee is launching its own inquiry next week. It will investigate not only why the tapes were destroyed and Congress was not notified, but also the interrogation methods that "if released, had the potential to do such grave damage to the United States," committee chairman Silvestre Reyes said Saturday.

"This administration cannot be trusted to police itself," said Reyes, a Democrat.

The Senate Intelligence committee also is investigating.

Hayden told agency employees Thursday that the recordings were destroyed out of fear that the tapes would leak and reveal the identities of interrogators. He said the sessions were videotaped to provide an added layer of legal protection for interrogators using new, harsh methods authorized by U.S. President George W. Bush as a way to break down the defenses of recalcitrant prisoners.

The White House had no immediate comment on the inquiry. On Friday, presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said the White House would support U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey if he decided to investigate.

Angry congressional Democrats had demanded that the Justice Department investigate. Some accused the CIA of a cover-up.

The man now at the center of the storm is Jose Rodriguez, who retired as head of the CIA's clandestine directorate of operations in August but will leave the agency at the end of the year. Rodriguez decided that the tapes should be destroyed, one former and one current intelligence official said. A career spy, Rodriguez was promoted to the job by then-CIA Director Porter Goss.

Goss learned of the tapes' destruction "a couple of days" after it happened, a government official familiar with the events said. The official said Goss did not order an investigation or inform Congress.

Goss was upset by the tapes' destruction but did not take any action because the decision was within Rodriguez's authority, a former intelligence official said. The CIA's spy service has broad latitude to take actions to protect operational security.

Another intelligence official said Rodriguez was concerned the tapes would leak and the interrogators seen in the tapes would be targeted by al-Qaida. "Rodriguez felt he had good reasons to deep-six the tapes. They had people's faces on them. It's not like a name getting out," the official said.