Conyers Demands Justice Officials Testify On Destroyed CIA Tapes

Despite being rebuffed by Attorney General Michael Mukasey last week, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) is demanding that Justice Department testify on

In a letter today to Mukasey, Conyers said his committee's investigation of the incident would not interfere with a joint CIA-DOJ probe, and he asserted that Congress has a right to hear from DOJ officials on the matter. Both the Judiciary and Intelligence committees in the House and Senate have already begun looking into the circumstances surrounding the destruction of the tapes, which showed the 2002 interrogation of two high-ranking al Qaeda detainees. The tapes were destroyed in 2005, despite warnings from DOJ and White House officials to the CIA to retain the tapes.

"As you well know, this Committee has jurisdiction over the Department and an obligation to perform meaningful oversight of the Department’s activities, and other committees have oversight responsibilities concerning the CIA," Conyers wrote. "We also note that congressional precedent dictates that parallel congressional and executive investigations occur frequently, and therefore should not be used as a shield against proper and necessary oversight. In light of the importance of the issues surrounding the Department’s investigation into the destruction of the CIA tapes, we expect that the Department will provide a high level official to testify on this subject matter, specifically including the Department’s attempts to forestall legislative or judicial inquiry."

Conyers is not threatening to issue any subpoenas at this point, but House insiders said that such a move is possible if DOJ does not comply with Conyers' demand.