You remember former CIA official Jose Rodriguez. He's the guy at the center of the criminal investigation into the destruction of the CIA's torture tapes. The videotapes, you'll remember, documented interrogation techniques authorized by Justice Department lawyers and the White House on two detainees. CIA interrogators (and possibly contractors
) waterboarded the two detainees and possibly exposed them to a range of other techniques, such as inducing hypothermia. The investigation is not focusing on the use of those techniques, though. The focus
is the destruction of the tapes.
But back to Rodriguez. The line from White House and senior CIA officials has been that they repeatedly advised against destroying the tapes. Rodriguez (via his lawyer) says that advice was never unequivocal. The New York Times has a story
today exploring that breach between Rodriguez, who ran the CIA's clandestine service, and the leadership.
The story goes something like this: Porter Goss, then the director of the CIA, was viewed as something of a buffoon by the career officers. They didn't like the crew he brought in (like his #3 Dusty Foggo, who was subsequently indicted for taking bribes from Brent Wilkes), and they didn't like the way he ran the place. So Rodriguez pretty much ran things the way he thought they ought to be run in his division. And when the issue of whether to destroy those tapes arose again in late 2005, he did what he thought was right. He saw the tapes as "a sort of time bomb that, if leaked, threatened irreparable damage to the United Statesâ image in the Muslim world, his friends say, and posed physical and legal risks to C.I.A. officers on them."
And Goss... did nothing. The Times
reports that there is "no record of any reprimand or punishment" in Rodriguez's personnel file at the agency. Because:
People close to Mr. Goss, who knew from his Congressional years how explosive accusations of cover-up could be, insist he told Mr. Rodriguez the tapes should be preserved.
But if Mr. Goss believed Mr. Rodriguez had disobeyed him, why did he not punish the clandestine service chief? One former C.I.A. official said White House officials had complained about the news media firestorm that accompanied the departure of [two CIA officials who'd resigned] a year earlier, and Mr. Goss felt he could not risk another blowup.
And of course the administration kept the whole thing quiet for more than two years until the Times
blew the whistle. Too bad there's never a convenient time for "another blowup."