NEWS, OPINION & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Torture tapes — Watergate of our times?

CIA to cooperate with House on tapes

The Central Intelligence Agency has agreed to make documents related to the destruction of interrogation videotapes available to the House Intelligence Committee and to allow the agency’s top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, to testify about the matter, Congressional and intelligence officials said Wednesday.

But it remained unclear whether Jose A. Rodriguez, who as chief of the agency’s clandestine service ordered the tapes destroyed in 2005, would testify. Officials said Mr. Rodriguez’s appearance before the committee might involve complex negotiations over legal immunity at a time when the Justice Department and the intelligence agency were reviewing whether the destruction of the tapes broke any laws.

The agreement marked at least a partial resolution of a standoff between the Bush administration and Congress. [complete article]

See also, Bush faces questions about CIA tapes (AP) and White House: NYT wrong about CIA tapes (CNN).

Torture tapes are the Watergate of our times

In an administration facing an ocean of scandal on multiple and multiplying fronts, this scandal above all will be the Watergate of our times because it involves extremely probable crimes of torture, extremely probable obstructions of justice, and a steady stream of revelations that will only escalate until the inevitable special prosecutor is named. [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — Starting with the most obvious difference between the torture tapes and the Watergate tapes, the latter were tampered with while the former were destroyed — call it a Watergate lesson-learned. But perhaps more important is the political context. America in the early ’70s had the capacity to be shocked and the willingness to challenge power. Back in those days, the New York Times had the guts to defy the White House by publishing the Pentagon Papers. Now the White House asks them to change a subheading and the paper of record meekly says, OK. As for Congress, is an anemic Democratic “opposition” ready to challenge the administration, no-holds-barred? That really would be shocking.

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