Jose Rodriguez (intelligence officer)

Jose Rodriguez
Born (1948-10-21) October 21, 1948
Puerto Rico
Alma mater University of Florida
Known for Director of the National Clandestine Service

Jose A. Rodriguez, Jr. (born October 21, 1948) is a former director of the National Clandestine Service (D/NCS) of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He was the final CIA deputy director for operations (DDO) before that position was expanded to D/NCS in December 2004.[1][2] He was a central figure in the 2005 CIA interrogation tapes destruction scandal and The New York Times Editorial Board and Human Rights Watch have called for his prosecution.

Service with CIA

Born in Puerto Rico in 1948, Rodriguez attended the University of Florida, earning both a bachelor's degree and a law degree. He joined the CIA in 1976 and served for 31 years. According to Gen. (ret.) Michael Hayden, "Jose built a reputation for leadership in the field and here at headquarters, and he guided some of the agency's greatest counterterror victories. He has done much to protect our country by strengthening its Clandestine Service."[3]

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. Over time he was promoted to chief of station in Panama, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic and ultimately director of the Latin American Division. He was removed from that post in 1997 after an incident where he intervened to help a friend 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.[4]

Shortly after 9/11, Rodriguez was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the Counterterrorism Center.[5] In May 2002, Rodriguez was promoted to the post of Director of the Counterterrorism Center.[6] The Counterterrorism Center brings together case officers, operators, analysts, and technologists to work on preventing terrorism. In this capacity, Rodriguez was responsible for driving the CIA operations and the targeting analysis necessary to uncover terrorists in the Al Qaeda network. 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.[7] In 2004 Rodriguez advised the organizers of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, including the chief organizer, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, on security matters and counterterrorism.

CIA/Deputy director for Operations and head of NCS

On November 16, 2004, Rodriguez succeeded Stephen Kappes to become the deputy director for operations.[8] 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 CIA Counterterrorism Center, for not being "aggressive" enough in combating terrorism.[9]

Issues in CIA career

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.[10] 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 a friend in the Dominican Republic, trying to get the Dominican government to drop the charges.[11] According to the New York Times, the CIA's inspector general criticized Rodriguez for a "remarkable lack of judgment."[12]

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 key leaders were videotaped.

In 2005, while head of the Clandestine Service, Rodriguez ordered that videotape recordings of two 2002 CIA interrogations be destroyed.[13] 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.[14] "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.[15] It was later revealed that the deputy to Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, then executive director of the CIA, wrote in an e-mail 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."[16]

The tapes reportedly showed two men held in CIA custody, Abu Zubaida and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri,[17] being subjected to a program of 'enhanced' interrogation techniques that included a procedure called waterboarding. Critics allege these methods amount to torture and the tapes were evidence both protected by court order and the 9/11 Commission.[18][19] 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.[20]

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.[6] Rodriguez has requested immunity in exchange for his testimony on the tape recordings.[21] 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.[10]

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.[22] 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.'"[23] 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.[24]

Rodriguez continues to work in the private sector and recently provided interviews to Time Magazine in the aftermath of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.[25]

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."[26][27]

Career after CIA

After reportedly being heavily recruited to join the international security firm Blackwater, Rodriguez instead joined the privately owned National Interest Security Company in Fairfax, Virginia, which combined several formerly independent companies.[28][29][30] In NISC, Rodriguez was made a senior vice president in Edge Consulting, an intelligence assessment and strategy consulting group.[31][32] 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.[33][34] NISC was purchased by IBM in March 2010.[35] 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.[36]

In 2012, Rodriguez's book Hard Measures was published. It details the story of the campaign against Al Qaeda.[37] 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."[38] This will certainly be a viewpoint contested by others, but it represents the perspective of the former director of the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center during this critical period.


See also


  1. Vest, Jason (December 3, 2004). "Politicized espionage: Insiders fear that changeovers at the CIA will weaken the agency". The Phoenix. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  2. "About the CIA". The Central Intelligence Agency. June 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  3. Shrader, Katherine (August 8, 2007). "Longtime CIA Spy Unmasks for Retirement". Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  4. Mazzetti, Mark; Shane, Scott (February 20, 2008). "Tape Inquiry: Ex-Spymaster in the Middle". New York Times. Retrieved October 13, 2011.
  5. {url=}
  6. 1 2 "Station Chief Made Appeal To Destroy CIA Tapes". Washington Post. January 16, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  7. "Statement by CIA Spokesman Bill Harlow – Central Intelligence Agency". Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  8. Diamond, John (November 18, 2004). "CIA plans riskier, more aggressive espionage". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  9. Gellman, Barton; Dafna Linzer (February 7, 2006). "Top Counterterrorism Officer Removed Amid Turmoil at CIA". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  10. 1 2 Baxter, Sarah (December 23, 2007). "CIA chief to drag White House into torture coverup storm". The Times. London. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  12. Mazzetti, Mark (December 10, 2007). "C.I.A. Official in Inquiry Called a 'Hero'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  13. Mazzetti, Mark (December 7, 2007). "C.I.A. Destroyed 2 Tapes Showing Interrogations". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  14. Calabresi, Massimo (December 7, 2007). "CIA Tapes Furor: A Legacy of Mistrust". Time. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  15. Mazzetti, Mark; Shane, Scott (December 31, 1969). "Jose Rodriguez, center of tapes inquiry, was protective of his CIA subordinates". The New York Times.
  16. Finn, Peter and Tate, Juile 2005 Destruction of Interrogation Tapes Caused Concern at CIA, e-mails Show." (quoting e-mail citing Rodriguez) Washington Post, April 15, 2010
  17. Kean, Thomas H.; Hamilton, Lee H. (January 2, 2008). "Stonewalled by the C.I.A". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  18. "The Man Who Ordered CIA's Tape Destruction, José Rodríguez Ordered Tapes of Terror Interrogations Destroyed Without Telling CIA Director". CBS News. December 11, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  19. "White House: Miers Told CIA to Save Tapes". ABC News. December 7, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  20. Scott Shane And Mark Mazzetti (December 30, 2007). "Tapes by C.I.A. Lived and Died to Save Image – New York Times". The New York Times. Abu Ghraib (Iraq). Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  21. Eggen, Dan; Warrick, Joby (January 10, 2008). "Ex-CIA Official May Refuse to Testify About Videotapes". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
  22. Johnson, Carrie (November 9, 2010). "No Charges to Be Filed for Destruction of CIA Interrogation Tapes". NPR. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  23. Markon, Jerry (November 9, 2010). "No charges in destruction of CIA videotapes, Justice Department says". The Washington Post.
  24. "The Jose Rodriguez lesson". May 1, 2012.
  25. Fastenberg, Dan (May 4, 2011). "Enhanced Interrogation". TIME. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  26. "No More Excuses: A Roadmap to Justice for CIA Torture". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  27. "Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses". The New York Times. 2014-12-21. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  28. "Revolving Door to Blackwater Causes Alarm at CIA, By Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine)". September 11, 2001. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  29. "José Rodríguez joins National Interest Security Company". October 7, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  30. "National Interest Security Company – A Leading Provider of Information, Management, and Technology Services". Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  31. "National Interest Security Company – A Leading Provider of Information, Management, and Technology Services". Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  32. "Chris Whitlock". LinkedIn. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  33. "NISC – Jose Rodriguez, former Director of the CIA National Clandestine Service, joins National Interest Security Company". October 7, 2008. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  34. "IBM News room – 2010-03-02 IBM Completes Acquisition of National Interest Security Company – United States". March 2, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  35. "IBM buying National Interest Security Company – security, NISC, mergers and acquisitions, IBM – Security". Techworld. January 21, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  36. "SpyTalk: Ex-CIA Official Jose Rodriguez Inks Book Contract, Claims Torture Led to Bin Laden". May 5, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  37. Archived May 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
Government offices
Preceded by
Stephen Kappes
CIA Deputy Director for Operations
November 2004 – October 13, 2005
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Initial Director
Director of the National Clandestine Service
October 13, 2005 – September 30, 2007
Succeeded by
Michael Sulick
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