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Ex-CIA Director Joked About Destroying Interrogation Tapes

Porter Goss, director of the CIA from 2004 to 2006, previously gave the impression he was dismayed when his operations chief, Jose Rodriguez, ordered the destruction of dozens of videotapes documenting the brutal interrogations of al-Qaeda detainees. Perhaps not so:

Shortly after the tapes were destroyed at the order of Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, Mr. Goss told Mr. Rodriguez that he “agreed” with the decision, according to the document. He even joked after Mr. Rodriguez offered to “take the heat” for destroying the tapes.

“PG laughed and said that actually, it would be he, PG, who would take the heat,” according to one document, an internal C.I.A. e-mail message.

The CIA’s ex-acting general counsel, John Rizzo, told The New York Times he was surprised to hear about Goss’ approval and jocular tone. “Porter never once indicated to me that he agreed with the decision… I thought he was as upset as I was for not being told.”

Rodriguez still appears to have presented Goss with a fait accompli. Nothing in the document indicates Goss himself ordered the tapes to be destroyed. But John Durham, the Justice Department’s special prosecutor investigating the tape destruction, might seek to clarify matters with Goss himself.

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