Fifth Lawyer Said to Oppose Destruction of CIA Videotapes

The Washington Post reports that a fifth lawyer, former CIA general counsel Scott Muller, argued against destroying two videotapes of the interrogation of al-Qaida suspects.

Sources told the Post that Muller opposed the destruction until he left the agency in late 2004. The tapes were destroyed in 2005. A judge is holding a hearing this morning to consider whether the destruction violated a court order to preserve evidence in a suit by Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that at least four lawyers discussed whether the videotapes should be destroyed. They are Alberto Gonzales, who was White House counsel until early 2005; Harriet Miers, who replaced him; David Addington, who was counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney; and John B. Bellinger III, who was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council.

The Times said their advice was unclear. But the Post later reported that CIA chief Michael Hayden told lawmakers in closed-door testimony that the four White House officials consistently counseled caution about destroying the tapes.

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