Note first, as Gorman does, that this explanation conflicts with that of CIA Director Mike Hayden. In disclosing the destruction of the tapes, Hayden said in a statement Thursday, rather implausibly, that the tapes needed to be destroyed because their potential disclosure could leave CIA interrogators open to retribution from al-Qaeda. Hayden will go to the Senate intelligence committee tomorrow to answer (or not) lawmakers' questions on the tapes' destruction. The hearing will be closed to the public.
But more importantly, the former officials quoted here aren't really doing Rodriguez any favors. Let me be explicit: they do not necessarily speak for Rodriguez, and I have no clue whether or not Rodriguez would stand behind the explanation they gave Gorman. But what they're saying is that Rodriguez had the tapes destroyed in order to protect his interrogators from potential prosecution -- prosecution for doing things that the Bush administration ordered them to do and that the Justice Department, the White House counsel, the Vice President's office, and the CIA general counsel had all vetted as legal. It's a very plausible explanation that Rodriguez thought it would be unfair for the administration, faced with the embarrassing disclosure of CIA torture, to throw the interrogators under the bus and claim, Abu Ghraib-style, that a bunch of "bad apples" had taken control.
Again: whether this actually happened I have no idea, but it's plausible. However, if it's true, that means that Rodriguez deliberately destroyed evidence of potential crimes. Perhaps he did so for admirable reasons, opting to absorb the blame if the administration came after his subordinates. After all, as of right now, the Justice Department-CIA probe is investigating the destruction of the tapes, and not whether the activity shown on those tapes is itself criminal, or whether whoever ordered it done should face charges. But as much as the former officials quoted in Gorman's story are trying to defend Rodriguez, on the narrow question of the tapes' destruction they're conceding that he deliberately covered up what happened in those interrogation chambers.