Jose Rodriguez

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Person.png Jose Rodriguez  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Jose Rodriguez.jpg
Born21 October 1948
Puerto Rico
Alma materUniversity of Florida
InterestsCIA/Drug trafficking
CIA officer in the Latin American Division for decades, then appointed COO of the Counterterrorism Center after 911.

Employment.png Director of the National Clandestine Service

In office
16 November 2004 - 30 September 2007

Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. is an American former intelligence officer who was Director of the National Clandestine Service Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Rodriguez was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the Counterterrorism Center, where he was responsible for torturing several suspects to death[1][2] Rodriguez was a central figure in the 2005 CIA interrogation videotapes destruction.[3][4]

Like many officers in the Latin American Division, during the Iran–Contra affair, Rodriguez was questioned by the FBI about his role in the scandal after allegations of CIA involvement emerged.[5] No charges or actions were brought against him in connection with Iran–Contra.

Much later, in 1997, Rodriguez interceded in the drug-related arrest of an associate in the Dominican Republic, trying to get the Dominican government to drop the charges.[6] According to the New York Times, the CIA's inspector general criticized Rodriguez for a "remarkable lack of judgment."[7]

Early life and education

Born in Puerto Rico in 1948, Rodriguez attended the University of Florida, earning both a bachelor's degree and Juris Doctor.


Rodriguez joined the CIA in 1976 and served for 31 years.[8]

Much of his career was as an officer under the Directorate of Operations in the Latin America division, assigned to work in countries ranging from Peru to Belize. From 1994 to 1996, he worked under the guise of Military Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires. Over time, he was promoted to chief of station in Panama, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, and subsequently chief of Latin America Division. He was removed from the post in 1997 allegedly after an incident where he intervened to help an associate who had been arrested on drug charges in the Dominican Republic. In 1999, he transferred to Mexico City, where he again served as a station chief.[9]

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Rodriguez was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the Counterterrorism Center.[10] In May 2002, Rodriguez was promoted to the post of Director of the Counterterrorism Center.[11] The Counterterrorism Center brings together case officers, operators, analysts, and technologists to work on preventing terrorism. In the time period that Rodriguez was there, the Counterterrorism Center grew sharply. The number of analysts quadrupled, and the number of operations officers doubled.[12] In 2004 Rodriguez advised the organizers of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, including the chief organizer, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, on security matters and counterterrorism.

On November 16, 2004, Rodriguez succeeded Stephen Kappes to become the deputy director for operations.[13] Rodriguez continued in his capacity as the head of CIA clandestine operations, now as director of the National Clandestine Service. In this expanded role, Rodriguez is the chief of all human intelligence gathering (HUMINT) conducted by the U.S. government, including outside agencies. On February 7, 2006, Rodriguez fired Robert Grenier, his successor as director of the Counterterrorism Center, for not being "aggressive" enough in combating terrorism.[14]

Controversy over destruction of interrogation videotapes

In the campaign against Al-Qaeda, several senior leaders in the organization were captured by the CIA in 2002. They were subjected to what has been described as torture or enhanced interrogation techniques, according to the U.S. government. The interrogations of two of the captives were videotaped.

In 2005, while head of the Clandestine Service, Rodriguez ordered that videotape recordings of two 2002 CIA interrogations be destroyed.[15] CIA officials initially stated that the recordings were destroyed to protect the identity of the interrogators, after they were no longer of intelligence value to any investigations.[16] "He would always say, 'I'm not going to let my people get nailed for something they were ordered to do,'" said Robert Richer, Rodriguez's deputy recalling conversations with his boss about the tapes.[17] It was later revealed that the deputy to Kyle Foggo, then executive director of the CIA, wrote in an email that Rodriguez thought "the heat from destroying is nothing compared with what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain—he said that out of context they would make us look terrible; it would be 'devastating' to us."[18]

The tapes reportedly showed two men held in CIA custody, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri,[19] being subjected to a program of 'enhanced' interrogation techniques that included a procedure called waterboarding.[20][21] Rodriguez's record has come under scrutiny after it was reported that the destruction of the videotapes was allegedly in defiance of orders from then–CIA director Porter Goss.[22]

Summoned by congressional subpoena, he was excused from a January 16, 2008, House Intelligence Committee hearing on a request from his lawyer, Robert S. Bennett.[11] Rodriguez has requested immunity in exchange for his testimony on the tape recordings.[23] Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst familiar with Rodriguez and the tapes, commented in a December 23, 2007 Sunday Times story that "it looks increasingly as though the decision was made by the White House." He also alleged it is "highly likely" that President George W. Bush saw one of the videos.[5]

After an exhaustive three-year investigation into the destruction of the videotapes of the interrogations (including pictures of the interrogators), the Justice Department announced in November 2010 it would not pursue any charges against Jose Rodriguez.[24] As The Washington Post reported, "Robert S. Bennett, an attorney for Rodriguez, said he is 'pleased that the Justice Department has decided not to go forward against Mr. Rodriguez. This is the right decision because of the facts and the law.'"[25] Commentator Glenn Greenwald described the decision as just another in a long line of instances of the Obama White House granting legal immunity to Bush-era crimes.[26]

Rodriguez continues to work in the private sector and recently provided interviews to Time in the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden.[27]

The New York Times Editorial board and Human Rights Watch have called for the prosecution of Rodriguez "for conspiracy to torture as well as other crimes."[28][29]

Responsibility for torture and murder of Gul Rahman

In 2002, while in CIA custody, an Afghan detainee named Gul Rahman was tortured, doused with water, and left outside to suffer in temperatures near freezing. CIA doctors later determined that Rahman froze to death. His death was hastily covered-up by the CIA, his body cremated, and his family not notified.

In 2014, Steven W. Hawkins, the executive director of Amnesty International USA, that Rodriguez was the CIA official responsible for Rahman's death. Pending investigation, Rodriguez was not only not punished, or sanctioned, rather, he received a cash bonus for his "consistently superior work".[30]

Career after CIA

After reportedly being heavily recruited to join the international mercenary firm Blackwater, Rodriguez instead joined the privately-owned National Interest Security Company in Fairfax, Virginia, which combined several formerly independent companies.[31][32][33] In NISC, Rodriguez was made a senior vice president in Edge Consulting, an intelligence assessment and strategy consulting group.[34][35] Edge Consulting (now a part of IBM) was founded by Chris Whitlock and Frank Strickland to assess intelligence performance with special emphasis on Iraq and Afghanistan, while also working issues in the broader intelligence community.[36][37] NISC was purchased by IBM in March 2010.[38] Rodriguez appeared in some press around the acquisition by IBM as part of the rationale for the big firm's purchase of NISC, with its specialization in the intelligence and defense communities.[39]

In 2012, Rodriguez's book Hard Measures was published. It details the story of the campaign against Al Qaeda.[40] This effort, or the CIA's lead portion of it, concerns the capture of a number of the key operational leaders in Al Qaeda's global network. Rodriguez recently told Time magazine that leads coming from key detainees early in the campaign against Al Qaeda were crucial in ultimately leading to the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. Rodriguez readily admits the role of other sources and efforts, but argues the impact of the interrogation of senior leaders early on should not be lost. As Time reported directly, "Rodriguez agrees that other events played a role in developing the intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts. And he says that despite widespread focus on KSM, al Libbi's information was the most important. Both KSM and al Libbi were held at CIA black sites and subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques," Rodriguez says. "Abu Faraj was not waterboarded, but his information on the courier was key."[41] Rodriguez's claims about the efficacy of torture in the manhunt for Osama bin Laden were directly contradicted by the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, which reported that targeting of bin Laden's courier, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, was underway before the use of torture, and that the relevant intelligence was gained from detainees before subjecting them to torture.[42]

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  30. Iglesias, David; Hawkins, Steven W.; Iacopino, Vincent; Camerino, Tony; Wheeler, Marcy; Sifton, John; Hawkins, Katherine (9 December 2014). "Shock and anal probe: reading between the redactions in the CIA torture report". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-12-11. This is a particularly despicable and illuminating look into how the CIA treated its officers who were carrying out torture techniques. After a detainee, Gul Rahman, was chained, nearly naked, to a concrete floor for an extended time and then froze to death, no officer on-site nor at the CIA was disciplined – let alone prosecuted. In fact, the CIA officer in charge of the detention site was recommended to receive a bonus of $2,500 for his "consistently superior work".
  35. [1]
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