He said the sessions were videotaped to provide an added layer of legal protection for interrogators using new, harsh methods authorised by George Bush, the US president, as a way to break down the defences of recalcitrant prisoners.

"I welcome it as an opportunity to address questions that have arisen over the destruction back in 2005 of videotapes," Hayden said.

John Rizzo, the CIA's acting general counsel, is preserving all remaining records related to the videotapes and their destruction, according to Kenneth L Wainstein, assistant attorney general.

 

on Saturday, Wainstein wrote to Rizzo to confirm justice department officials, lawyers from the CIA general counsel's office and the CIA inspector general will meet early this coming week to begin the preliminary inquiry.