Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Dog Ate Them: 92 Tapes of CIA Interrogations "Missing"

The CIA destroyed 92 tapes of "harsh interrogations" and confinement of high-level Al-Qaeda members, according to media accounts. If so much of the reliable evidence has been destroyed, this could explain, in part, why DOJ will not prosecute anyone for torture. For those individuals who doubted that any torture occurred, why would the CIA destroy tapes of the interrogations?

From the Washington Post:
The CIA got rid of 92 videotapes depicting the harsh interrogations and confinement of "high value" al-Qaeda suspects, government lawyers disclosed yesterday, as a long-running criminal probe of the tapes' destruction inched toward a conclusion that is not expected to result in charges against CIA operations employees, three sources said.

Then-directorate of operations chief Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. gave an order to destroy the recordings in November 2005, as scrutiny of the CIA and its treatment of terrorism suspects intensified. The agency's then-Director Michael V. Hayden argued that the tapes posed "a serious security risk" because they contained the identities of CIA participants in al-Qaeda interrogations. . . .

"The sheer number of tapes at issue demonstrates that this destruction was not an accident," said Amrit Singh, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union. "There was a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence of what we believe to be illegal conduct."

Singh said that the ACLU had secured a court order in September 2004, more
than a year before the tapes were eradicated, directing the agency to preserve
materials related to the interrogation of prisoners overseas. "It's about time the CIA was held accountable for its flagrant violation of the law," she said.

CIA officials rejected the assertion that the agency had sought to hide evidence from investigators and said they had cooperated fully with the Justice Department investigation.
Note: The CIA's excuse is highly implausible. The "security risk," if any, existed when the CIA began recording interrogations. Apparently, the agency suddenly discovered this risk once reports of torture started getting attention in the media. But the CIA undoubtedly knows how to safeguard, rather than destroy, sensitive information.

Furthermore, if "harsh interrogations" are legal, then defend them. Defending, instead, the destruction of evidence related to potentially criminal behavior is a terrible alternative. It completely undermines the CIA's position on the legality of its interrogation techniques, and it legitimizes the obstruction of justice.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi, Naivya. Thanks for the comments and for visiting.

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