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US Congress gets access to CIA videotape files
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Investigators from US Congress were given access by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Thursday to the agency's files related to the destruction of videotapes showing interrogation of terror suspects.


CIA said it now allows the investigator to review these documents in its headquarters in the Washington suburbs, according to wire and TV reports.


The House Intelligence Committee also confirmed that the agency's top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, will testify before the panel about the matter.


But it remains unclear whether Jose A. Rodriguez, who as chief of the agency's clandestine service ordered the tapes destroyed in 2005, would testify.


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 latest move marks at least a partial resolution of a standoff between the Bush administration and Congress.


It began last Friday, when the Justice Department urged the House panel to postpone any inquiry on the grounds it might hinder the review by Justice and the CIA's inspector general.


The committee's Democratic chairman, Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, and its top Republican, Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, responded by refusing to put off the investigation, saying there were many precedents for congressional inquiries to proceed in parallel with criminal investigations.


The destruction of the tapes was first revealed by The New York Times, which forced the CIA to acknowledge the issue.


According to news reports, the tapes destroyed by the CIA in 2005, documented harsh interrogation methods used in 2002 on Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, two al Qaida suspects in CIA custody.


The Justice Department and the CIA have launched a preliminary investigation.


The Congress is pushing forward its own investigation while the White House keeps mum on the issue.


(Xinhua News Agency December 21, 2007)

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