Conyers Wants Probe Into CIA Tapes

By John Bresnahan
January 2, 2008

(The Politico) Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s decision earlier today to appoint a veteran federal prosecutor to oversee a criminal investigation into the destruction of CIA videotapes has not mollifed Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who still wants a special counsel appointed to oversee the case.

Mukasey has chosen John Durham, an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to run the investigation. Durham will “serve as acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia for purposes of this matter.” Mukasey said. “Mr. Durham is a widely respected and experienced career prosecutor who has supervised a wide range of complex investigations in the past, and I am grateful to him for his willingness to serve in this capacity. As the acting United States attorney for purposes of this investigation, Mr. Durham will report to the deputy attorney general, as do all United States attorneys in the ordinary course. I have also directed the FBI to conduct the investigation under Mr. Durham’s supervision.”

Chuck Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney in Alexandria, Va., has recused himself from the CIA probe. Rosenberg worked in former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ office during the period when the fate of the CIA tapes, which included records of 2002 interrogations of top Al Qaeda operatives, were reportedly discussed with the CIA and White House. The tapes were destroyed in 2005 by CIA officials despite legal objections. A preliminary probe by DOJ and the CIA’s inspector general determined that a criminal probe was warranted, which led to Mukasey’s announcement today.

But Durham’s appointment did not satisfy House Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers, who wants a special counsel appointed instead. Conyers said Mukasey “stepped outside the Justice Department’s own regulations” by refusing to appoint a special counsel.

“While I certainly agree that these matters warrant an immediate criminal investigation, it is disappointing that the attorney general has stepped outside the Justice Department’s own regulations and declined to appoint a more independent special counsel in this matter.” Conyers said in a statement released by his office. “Because of this action, the Congress and the American people will be denied — as they were in the Valerie Plame matter — any final report on the investigation.”

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