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Posted at 4:15 PM ET, 04/16/2010

CIA tape dump: Who's laughing how?

By Jeff Stein

“You're a pistol, you're really funny…” the wannabe mobster Henry Hill says to Tommy DeVito in the famous “Goodfellas” scene.

“What do you mean I'm funny?...Funny how?” retorts DeVito, played by Joe Pesci in the 1990 gangster flick.

“What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?”

Hill (Ray Liotta) swallows. Pesci isn’t joking.

Likewise, CIA Director Porter Goss’s “laugh” at a remark by his chief of operations, Jose Rodriguez, about destroying videotapes of CIA interrogations is gaining an instant notoriety.

According to e-mails made pubic Thursday, Goss “laughed” in 2005 when Rodriguez offered to “take the heat” over the destruction of the recordings.

“PG" -- Goss -- "laughed and said that actually, it would be he, PG, who would take the heat,” according to an internal spy agency e-mail message, one in a series obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union.

In some reports, Goss’s laugh is interpreted as going along with Rodriquez.

Not so, says a former intelligence official who knows Goss well.

“He laughed, but not in a jocular way,” the former official said. In fact, Goss was “very angry” at Rodriguez, “because he didn’t give advance approval for the tapes’ destruction, and didn’t think it was a very good idea.”

But “Porter is a Connecticut gentleman,” the former official said of Goss, CIA director during 2004 -2006. “He doesn’t show his anger by blowing his top.”

"It was kind of a dry laugh," the fomer official continued. "He shook his head and said to Jose, 'No, I’ll be the one to take the heat, because I’m the CIA director.'”

The Post reported today that "the tapes were destroyed on Nov. 9, 2005, a week after The Washington Post revealed the existence of CIA prisons overseas."

A CIA official at the time wrote that Goss "agreed with the decision" after the fact, The Post reported. "But there is no indication in the documents that Goss knew of the destruction before it occurred."

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By Jeff Stein  | April 16, 2010; 4:15 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence  
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Whether dry or not, his laugh was inappropriate. If he really had wanted to signal his disapproval, he would have fired Rodriguez and everyone else involved, and offered - publicly - his own resignation, together with an apology. And opened an investigation into the incident. There is no excuse for his actions and lack thereof.

Posted by: bokonon13 | April 17, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

We're talking about whether or not he laughed? Really? The CIA destroyed tapes of interrogations. They destroyed a piece of history. And we're talking about whether or not the Director of the CIA laughed?

Posted by: PA123 | April 19, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Why are these SLUGS not in federal prison?

Posted by: darbyohara | April 20, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

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