The Sunday Times (London) reports that the CIA official blamed for the destruction of the torture tapes, who was subpoena'd on Thursday by the House Intelligence Committee, is looking for immunity from prosecution in exchange for testimony that probably would implicate White House officials.
Jose Rodriguez, former head of the CIA’s clandestine service, is determined not to become the fall guy in the controversy over the CIA’s use of torture, according to intelligence sources.
It has emerged that at least four White House staff were approached for advice about the tapes, including David Addington, a senior aide to Dick Cheney, the vice-president, but none has admitted to recommending their destruction.
Vincent Cannistraro, former head of counterterrorism at the CIA, said it was impossible for Rodriguez to have acted on his own: “If everybody was against the decision, why in the world would Jose Rodriguez – one of the most cautious men I have ever met – have gone ahead and destroyed them?”
Silvestre Reyes, Chair of the Committee, issued a statement two weeks ago saying that he's "not looking for scapegoats" in the investigation, signaling that he was willing to cut a deal with the man the Bush administration was pinning the blame upon. Rodriguez is no innocent of course, and it's disturbing to learn that Reyes considers him to be "an American Hero". Rodriguez was chief of staff of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center while it set up the network of black sites and implemented the Bush administration's torture regime. But Rodriguez is also described by Larry Johnson as having learned from his involvement in Iran-Contra that it's imperative to avoid being hung out to dry by the politicians whose bidding he does.
He learnt his lesson and recently appointed Robert Bennett, one of Washington’s most skilled lawyers, to handle the case of the destroyed interrogation tapes. “He has been starting to get his story out and was smart to get Bennett,” said Johnson.
If Rodriguez gains immunity, the White House cover-up will become the focus.
The House investigation comes on the heels of President Bush's comments that he did not "recall" the existence of the torture tapes until he was briefed on the matter by CIA director Michael Hayden about two weeks ago, and a subsequent New York Times report that at least four White House officials discussed the tapes at least two years ago.
The four staffers cited were Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David Addington, a key aide to Vice President Dick Cheney; John Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet Miers, who succeeded Gonzales as White House counsel.
There's just no getting around it, this trail leads all the way to the top.
And thus we can expect further scoundrels to grace the op-ed pages, emerging to defend waterboarding, torture, destruction of evidence, obstruction of justice, and so forth. You know the drill.