Clash with Congress brews after CIA’s tape destruction

WASHINGTON, Dec 8, 2007 (AFP) – The White House faced another clash with Congress Saturday after furious Democratic lawmakers demanded a probe into the CIA’s destruction of tapes showing harsh interrogations of captured Al-Qaeda operatives. The Central Intelligence Agency’s admission that it destroyed tapes of at least two interrogations in 2005, at a time when Congress was probing torture allegations, sparked outrage among lawmakers and human rights groups.

The recordings were disposed of despite appeals by White House and Justice Department officials, who advised the CIA in 2003 against destroying the materials, The New York Times reported Saturday.

In a note to his staff on Thursday, CIA director Michael Hayden said they were destroyed to protect the identities of the CIA agents shown in the tapes.

“It is a startling disclosure,” said Senate number two leader Richard Durbin, who asked the Justice Department to investigate whether CIA officials committed obstruction of justice by discarding the tapes.

Durbin called the destruction of the tapes “very troubling.”

Hayden, however, said government lawyers who reviewed the tapes found that the detainees were not subjected to illegal abuse and that the decision to destr