Bush Team Knew About CIA Tapes

At least four top White House lawyers reportedly took part in discussions with the CIA between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy the interrogation tapes of two al Qaeda suspects.

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BILL WOLFF, host:

From NPR News in New York, this is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News. It's news, information, and today, the Ron Paul train keeps on a-chugging. I'm Alison Stewart.

WOLFF: And I'm Bill Wolff. It's Wednesday, December 19th, 2007. Welcome to the show, and mess with Ron Paul at your own peril, Alison.

STEWART: It is true. We didn't even really mess with him. We did a story about Ron Paul and how he's perceived in his own hometown. We put a blog posting on our Web site. Three hundred and twenty-one people have commented in the past 24 hours. You do the math.

WOLFF: It is not a campaign. It is a movement.

STEWART: And just for the record, we got a little more Ron Paul coming up today, so stick around for that. Buckle up. And Laura Conaway, our blog editor, we apologize now for all the work we're making for you.

Coming up on the show: Today is the one-year anniversary of when Defense Secretary Robert Gates had his first full day on the job. We'll take a look at what a year it's been for him.

WOLFF: And there is a flasher loose in Atlanta, so ladies beware. We're going to try to get into the head of a flasher. And I'm proud to say I'm not involved.

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STEWART: And also, this new company called FlexPetz - fairly new. The basic concept is rent a dog, literally…

WOLFF: So wrong.

STEWART: …for a couple of days. Hey, hey, hey. You have to hear their side of things, first.

WOLFF: Fair enough.

STEWART: The big question everybody had: What's in it for the dog?

WOLFF: Exactly.

STEWART: We'll get to that very shortly. We'll also have Rachel Martin with today's headlines in just a minute.

But first, here's the BPP's Big Story.

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WOLFF: The tale of the tape continues. A federal judge wants to have a little interrogation of his own over those destroyed CIA videos. U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy is ordering lawyers from the Justice Department to appear in his chambers this Friday to explain why interrogation footage of two al-Qaida suspects was destroyed in 2005.

STEWART: Now, Judge Kennedy wants to know if the destruction violated a preexisting court order directing the Bush administration to preserve all evidence of torture, mistreatment or abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the Justice Department arguing that they didn't violate that order because the terror suspects were held overseas, not at Guantanamo Bay.

WOLFF: Enter the New York Times, which reports today that at least four top White House lawyers - including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and one near Supreme Court justice nominee, Harriet Miers - had discussions between 2003 and 2005 about whether or not to destroy those tapes.

STEWART: The federal judge's hearing is just one of several pending investigations. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the House Judiciary Committee are all looking into the matter.

WOLFF: But, in a letter last Friday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey asked Congress and the courts to let his department and the CIA handle its own joint probe into the tape destruction, at least first, saying any outside inquiries might complicate his efforts to figure out what really happened in this case.

STEWART: That is the BPP's Big Story.

Now here's Rachel Martin with even more news.

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