Hunt on for More Tapes

The CIA has launched an internal search for more audio- or videotapes depicting interrogations of suspected terrorists, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. The hunt is part of the agency's response to several investigations—by the Justice Department, Congress and the CIA's own inspector general—into the destruction in 2005 of videotapes documenting CIA interrogations of two senior Qaeda operatives. Current and former officials said they doubt the agency itself recorded any other interrogations, but added that the CIA might have received recordings made by friendly intelligence services that questioned Qaeda suspects. (The officials asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive matters.)

The agency has already acknowledged that it found some interrogation tapes beyond those destroyed in 2005. In a letter sent in October to the federal judge who jailed 9/11 collaborator Zacarias Moussaoui, prosecutors said the CIA had informed them about two videotapes and one audiotape apparently documenting the interrogation of suspects. Details are still classified, but the recordings appear to relate to the interrogation of suspects held by foreign intelligence agencies.

The destroyed videos covered hundreds of hours of interrogation. They are understood to have included evidence of CIA officials using aggressive interrogation techniques such as "waterboarding" on Qaeda captives Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The officials noted that if agency employees do find video- or audiotapes, they will probably turn them over directly to investigators without first viewing them—thus shielding themselves from accusations of interfering with the investigations. The CIA declined any comment on the ongoing investigations.

Meanwhile, congressional inquiries into the destruction of the agency's interrogation videos appear to be encountering snags. People close to the investigation say Jose Rodriguez Jr., the former head of CIA undercover operations who ordered the tapes destroyed, is refusing to testify at Capitol Hill hearings without a grant of immunity from Congress. (Rodriguez's lawyer, Robert Bennett, declined to comment.) The Justice Department has also asked congressional committees not to allow witnesses to see documents that the department regards as critical to its own investigation, a move which may discourage other witnesses from giving congressional testimony.