The top Republican on the House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee defied the Bush administration and pledged to investigate the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes.
"We want to hold the community accountable for what's happened with these tapes. I think we will issue subpoenas," Republican Representative Peter Hoekstra said on Sunday.
The Department of Justice has urged Congress not to investigate and advised intelligence officials not to cooperate with a legislative inquiry.
"You've got a community that's incompetent. They are arrogant. And they are political," Hoekstra said. "And I think that we're going to hold [CIA Director] Mike Hayden accountable."
Earlier this month, the CIA acknowledged destroying videos showing the harsh interrogation of top al-Qaeda suspects. Hayden said the videos, which were made in 2002, were destroyed in 2005 out of fear the tapes would leak and reveal the identifies of interrogators.
The House panel subsequently vowed to investigate, requesting documents and making plans to call several witnesses.
But on Friday, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein and CIA Inspector General John Helgerson, who are heading a separate Justice-CIA preliminary inquiry into the videotape destruction, asked Hoekstra and House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat, to postpone the review until it is clear where the government's preliminary inquiry will lead. They said they could not predict how long that would take.
Democratic Representative Jane Harman said on Sunday that a congressional review was necessary because it was an "independent branch of government." She noted that Congress and the Justice Department have conducted many parallel inquiries in the past.
Harman said that when she was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee in 2003, she sent a letter to the CIA warning the agency not to destroy the videotapes and "they did it anyway and they didn't tell us."
"So I am worried. It smells like the cover-up of the cover-up," Harman said.
Democratic Senator Joe Biden on Sunday reiterated his call for Attorney General Michael Mukasey to appoint a special counsel to investigate, citing Mukasey's refusal during confirmation hearings in October to describe waterboarding as torture.
"I don't have confidence in the president. I don't have confidence in the vice president. And I don't have confidence in the Justice Department," Biden said.
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