Hayden set to testify on CIA tapes

CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden faces two days of testimony behind closed doors at the Senate and House intelligence committees to answer questions about his agency’s destruction of videotaped interrogations of terrorist suspects.

Hayden will answer questions Tuesday from the Senate panel and Wednesday from its House counterpart. Both are closed sessions.

Hayden told CIA employees last week that the CIA taped the interrogations of two alleged terrorists in 2002. He said Congress was notified in 2003 both of the tapes’ existence and the agency’s intent to destroy them.

The CIA destroyed the tapes in November of 2005. Exactly when Congress was notified and in what detail is in dispute.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the CIA claims it told the committee of the tapes’ destruction at a hearing in November 2006. Rockefeller said, however, that the hearing transcript found no mention of that subject.

The House committee first learned the tapes had been destroyed in March 2007, according to Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.

In last week’s message, Hayden told CIA employees that “the leaders of our oversight committees in Congress were informed of the videos years ago and of the Agency’s intention to dispose of the material. Our oversight committees also have been told that the videos were, in fact, destroyed.”

But Reyes said Monday that Hayden’s claim that Congress was properly notified “does not appear to be true.”

Reyes and ranking Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan have launched a committee investigation into the decision to destroy the videotapes and whether Congress was apprised. It will also scrutinize the techniques used during the interrogations.

Besides Hayden, the House panel is considering a list of other possible witnesses for future hearings that could include former CIA directors Porter Goss and George Tenet, said a committee aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not yet been made.

Rockefeller has said the Senate panel also will conduct a full review of the episode.