WASHINGTON - Jose Rodriguez said it took a "few hours" to destroy 92 videotapes showing his CIA colleagues using harsh interrogation techniques - including water-boarding - on al-Qaida leaders such as Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
But the former director of the CIA's National Clandestine Service told Reuters on Monday that he ordered the tapes destroyed to protect his colleagues from possible retaliation by al-Qaida.
The tapes of interrogations at a CIA "black site" included images of water-boarding - a form of simulated drowning - on Mohammed, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, three al-Qaida leaders now held at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay.
Rodriguez said he was afraid the material would be leaked. "You really doubt that those tapes would not be out in the open now, that they would not be on YouTube?" he said. "They would be out there, they would have been leaked, or somebody would have ordered their release."