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CIA director knew about destroyed tapes in 2006

By Pamela Hess, Washington

THE CIA’s Michael Hayden, pictured, knew of the terrorist interrogation videotapes at the centre of controversy more than a year ago, he said yesterday.

Mr Hayden knew “the fact of” the destroyed videotapes late in his tenure as principal deputy director of national intelligence, a post he held from April 2005 to May 2006, he said on his way to brief the House Intelligence Committee about the unfolding investigation. “We are very happy to let the facts take us where they will,” he said at the Capitol.

Mr Hayden made a similar appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, but said he could not answer all the panel’s questions because the tapes were created and destroyed before he arrived at the CIA, under the tenure of his predecessors George Tenet and Porter Goss.

“Other people in the agency know about this far better than I,” he said, and promised the committee he would make those witnesses available.

Mr Hayden told CIA employees last week that the videotapes, made in 2002, showed the CIA’s interrogations of two terrorist suspects. The CIA destroyed the tapes in 2005. The tapes were made to document how CIA officers were using new, harsh questioning techniques recently approved by the White House to force recalcitrant prisoners to talk.

The CIA has not described exactly what was shown on all the tapes. However, among the harsh interrogation techniques the White House approved in 2002 was waterboarding.

Waterboarding involves strapping down a prisoner, covering his mouth and pouring water over his face. The prisoner quickly begins to inhale water, causing the sensation of drowning. The CIA has not used the technique since 2003, according to a government official.