December 10, 2007, - 4:48 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
We’ve heard a lot of reasons amidst the fraudulent Democrat outrage over the destruction of videotapes of CIA interrogation of terror suspects (including top Al-Qaeda operative and Palestinian Abu Zubaydah).
But today’s Wall Street Journal details exactly why Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr.–then the CIA’s National Clandestine Serice–ordered the destruciton of the video. Reading his reported reasoning–as relayed to the Journal by CIA sources–one can totally sympathize with Rodriguez and lower-level CIA agents. He did it to protect them from the Lynndie England treatment, in which a low level soldier took a huge fall for following orders that amount to nothing more offensive than a bunch of naked Iraqis in hoods while we’re at war with them.
Rodriguez didn’t want agents to get sicced with tons of ACLU/Muslim lawsuits that would ruin their lives because of a few hours of getting details that saved American lives. If only all high-level federal law enforcement agents looked out for their subordinates this way:
According to several former colleagues, his goal likely was to protect the officers who conducted the interrogations from criticism and litigation. They also described him as a cautious operator who probably would have ensured that top CIA managers new [DS: sic] of the plan. . . .
Gen. Hayden said last week that the tapes were destroyed because the agency feared that the identities of the officers would become public and that they would become targets of al Qaeda.
Former officers familiar with the events offer a different explanation. Mr. Rodriguez had long been concerned that the CIA lacked a long-term plan for handling interrogations, they say. He also worried, given the response to Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, and an earlier agency scandal involving the shooting-down of a plane that turned out to be carrying Peruvian missionaries, that lower-level officers would take the fall if the videos became public, the former colleagues said.
One former official said interrogators’ faces were visible on at least one video, as were those of more senior officers who happened to be visiting. He said Mr. Rodriguez was concerned that “they were carrying out the direction from higher-ups in the administration, yet the people who would end up getting in trouble are going to be some GS-12s,” referring to a midlevel rank in the federal bureaucracy.
“Jose was concerned about how all this would end,” another former senior intelligence official said. “He wasn’t getting instructions from anybody.”
Officers implementing the program had already voiced worries they might be liable if the political winds shifted. Some bought liability insurance but feared it wouldn’t be sufficient protection.
Mr. Rodriguez, who grew up in Puerto Rico, is a product of what one former agency colleague called “the rough and tumble” Latin American division, which was responsible for thwarting Russian aggression in that part of the world. That strategy eventually evolved into the Iran-Contra scandal. Mr. Rodriguez was a junior officer at the time. He spent most of his CIA career in Latin America.
“He’s the true spirit of what was an old-fashioned case officer in those days: loyalty to the CIA and nobody else,” one of the former colleagues said.
Predictably, the Republican Senate version of Dennis Kucinich spies a conspiracy at every turn:
“It’s hard for me to believe that senior members of the White House somehow didn’t pay attention to this or didn’t know about it,” said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R., Neb.), a member of the Senate intelligence panel.
So glad he’s retiring. Good riddance and not soon enough.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, sounds like the kind of person we need more of in the CIA, instead of the Valerie Plame strain, which dominates the agency and has a left-wing, pan-Arabist bent.
He backed up his agents who helped save American lives . . . no matter what kind of interrogation methods they used. Their questioning led us to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the discovery of multiple terrorist plots against Americans, etc.
Sadly, Rodriguez will retire at the end of the year.
Tags: Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda, Baghdad, case officer, Central Intelligence Agency, Chuck Hagel, Gen., General, Hayden, high-level federal law enforcement agents, Islamic Republic of Iran, Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr., junior officer, junior officer at the time, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Latin America, liability insurance, Nebraska, official, operative, Puerto Rico, Senate, Wall Street Journal, White House