by Matthew Hay Brown
The congressional interest in the CIA destruction of interrogation tapes turns out to be bipartisan.
Senior Republican lawmakers, many of whom have complained about the number and scope of investigations launched this year by Democrats, are joining their rivals in calling for answers about the videotapes, at least one of which is thought to show the waterboarding of senior al Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah.
"I think that we need to get to the bottom of why the tapes were made, why they were destroyed, under what authority they were made and under what authority they were destroyed," House Minority Leader John A. Boehner said this morning.
"Frankly, the president didn't know and the Congress didn't know about the existence of the tapes, nor the fact that they were destroyed," the Ohio Republican told reporters. "That is troubling, and I'm glad that we're investigating this."
The Justice Department and CIA said over the weekend that they would look into the 2005 decision to destroy the tapes made three years earlier. But Congress is planning probes of its own.
CIA Director Michael Hayden, who took over the agency in 2006, has been called before the Senate and House intelligence committees today and tomorrow for closed-door sessions to answer questions.
Democratic Senate Juciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and ranking Republican Arlen Specter, meanwhile, have written Attorney General Michael Mukasey to ask how much the Justice Department knew about the tapes and their destruction.
Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the former chairman and now ranking member of the House intelligence committee, joined current Chairman Silvestre Reyes in announcing a "complete, thorough and bipartisan" investigation.
"Director Hayden's note to the workforce on December 6, 2007, implied that our committee had been properly notified about the destruction of certain videos in 2005," Reyes and Hoekstra said in a joint statement. "Based on our review of the record, this does not appear to be true."