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US Press Cover for CIA Again by Withholding Name of Controversial Acting Clandestine Service Chief

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The acting head of the CIA’s clandestine service—the first woman to ever hold the position for any period of time—is being considered for the position. But, as reported, her professional history in the agency includes signing off on the destruction of torture tapes with former CIA Counterterrorism Center head, Jose Rodriguez.

Establishment media organizations covering this story are aware of the name of this officer yet, at the CIA’s request, they declined to publish her name. It would have been in the public interest to include her name in the story instead of keeping it secret in service to the CIA.

The Washington Post reported the female officer served in a senior position at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center after the September 11th attacks. She was in the chain of command for the Rendition, Detention and Interrogation program (RDI). When Rodriguez was promoted to head the clandestine service in 2004, she became his chief of staff.

At a black site prison in Thailand, brutal interrogations of high-profile detainees, including Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were recorded. Footage included video of Zubaydah vomiting and screaming as he was being waterboarded.

Rodriguez and his chief of staff grew nervous that the ninety-two tapes recorded might become public and officers involved would face trouble.”The two repeatedly sought permission to have the tapes destroyed but were denied,” according to the Post. “In 2005, instructions to get rid of the recordings went out anyway. Former officials said the order carried just two names: Rodriguez and his chief of staff.”

The New York Times covered the story as well. “Several former CIA officers said she was a strong advocate for getting rid of the tapes, which had been sitting for years inside a safe in the agency’s station in Bangkok.” And, one former senior CIA officer told the Times, “She and Jose were the two main drivers for years for getting the tapes destroyed.”

And, the Los Angeles Times did a write-up on the story noting, “Rodriguez later was reprimanded by the CIA for ordering the tapes destroyed, despite his claim that he was trying to protect the identities of CIA interrogators.” In his book, Hard Measures, he wrote his chief of staff “endured intense scrutiny from federal agents and the special prosecutor because of her close working relationship with me.”

The Post chose not to publish her name because, as the newspaper’s national security editor Doug Frantz said to Huffington Post, “The CIA asked that we not name her because she is still undercover.” Frantz said it was customary for someone in her position to be identified but “that’s not a choice we make.”

Similarly, it was noted in the Times‘ report, “Because the officer remains undercover, The New York Times is not disclosing her identity.” But, the Huffington Post quoted an intelligence reporter anonymously who claimed, “Most people who cover the beat probably know her name.” It mentioned that other outlets have her name but are not reporting it.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."