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Thread: CIA Admits It Destroyed Tapes Of Interrogations

  1. #71
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    CIA Says It Cooperated With 9/11 Panel
    CIA Rebuts Suggestions It Did Not Cooperate With 9/11 Commission Investigation

    http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=4047491

    12/24/2007

    The CIA on Saturday rebutted suggestions the spy agency was uncooperative and hid from the Sept. 11 commission the videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists, saying it waited until the panel went out of business before destroying the material now in question.

    The destruction in late 2005 of the videotapes of two al-Qaida suspects has upset a federal judge and riled the Democratic-controlled Congress, which has promised an investigation. The Justice Department also is trying to find out what happened and whether any laws were broken.

    A recent memo by Philip Zelikow, the former executive director of the Sept. 11 commission, suggests the CIA was less than forthcoming when asked for documents and other information from the panel, which investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    The CIA disputed that characterization and suggested the panel should have requested interrogation videotapes specifically if it wanted them.

    "The notion that the CIA wasn't cooperative or forthcoming with the 9/11 commission is just plain wrong. It is utterly without foundation," spokesman Mark Mansfield said Saturday. "The CIA's cooperation and assistance is what enabled the 9/11 commission to reconstruct the plot in their very comprehensive report."

    In a statement e-mailed separately Saturday, Mansfield suggested the commission should have been specific about wanting videotapes.

    "Because it was thought the commission could ask about tapes at some point, they were not destroyed while the commission was active," he said. Mansfield, citing similar comments this month by CIA Director Michael Hayden, added that "the tapes were destroyed only when it was determined they were no longer of intelligence value and not relevant to any internal, legislative, or judicial inquiries."

    Zelikow's seven-page memo, dated Dec. 13, reviews the commission's requests for information from the CIA.

    It cites a Jan. 26, 2004, meeting of commission members and administration officials, including then-CIA Director George Tenet, at which the government offered to present written questions to the detainees and relay their answers back to the commission.

    "None of the government officials in any of these 2004 meetings alluded to the existence of recordings of interrogations or any further information in the government's possession that was relevant to the commission's requests," Zelikow wrote.

    Near the end of the commission's work, and in response to a request by the commission to all agencies, John McLaughlin, then the deputy CIA director, confirmed on June 29, 2004, that the CIA had "taken and completed all reasonable steps necessary to find the documents in its possession, custody or control responsive" to the commission's formal requests and "has produced or made available for review" all such documents, the memo said.

    The existence of Zelikow's memo was first reported by The New York Times.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  2. #72
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    I don't know if anyone's read it, but here's Zelkow's memo.

    He references "Document Request No. 4", and "Document Request No. 37".

    As we've heard several times from the 9/11 Families, the "document requests" meant absolutely nothing to the agencies that received them, and more often than not, were ignored (as was the case with the two Zelikow mentioned).

    What they should have done was use their power of subpoena that the families fought hard for them to get.

    For a Commission that was mandated to give a "full and complete accounting" to make something like document requests "general policy" (according to Kean) when they had the ability to subpoena is absurd, and shows how "thorough" the investigation really was.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  3. #73
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    Regarding what I just wrote above, apparently I wasn't the only one to notice it.

    Watch the New York Times in the next couple of days for a letter to be posted.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  4. #74
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    CIA: rogue or victim in tapes flap?
    Republicans step up attacks on agency, while Democrats point to the White House as the culprit.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1226/p03s06-usju.html

    By Peter Grier | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
    from the December 26, 2007 edition

    Washington - The Central Intelligence Agency: rogue agency or fall guy?

    That's the question now arising in Washington in regards to the agency's destruction of the videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists.

    Some Republicans feel the CIA's actions in recent months have shown that it is acting on its own, perhaps to the point of subverting administration policies. The shredding of the tapes is but one piece of evidence here, they say. Another may be the recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which they believe contained inappropriate policy recommendations about engagement with Tehran.

    But others in Washington, including many Democrats, don't believe that Langley's actions are that uncontrolled. White House lawyers consulted with the CIA before the interrogation tapes were destroyed, they point out. At the least, the administration had the opportunity to order the tapes' preservation, they say.

    Congress seems set to proceed with its own tape investigations. But the holiday break means it will be weeks before lawmakers get to work.

    "Congress is out of the loop now," says Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor. "Maybe at this point the first crack at finding out what happened does really fall to the internal investigations of the CIA and Justice Department."

    Tension between the nation's largest intelligence agency and the White House are a common occurrence. But the relations between the Bush administration and Langley at times have been particularly strained.

    Partly, that is a reflection of the times. The unconventional nature of the worldwide struggle with extremist Islamists puts a high priority on intelligence – yet terrorist networks are particularly hard to penetrate. In the wake of Sept. 11, the CIA signaled it felt unfairly singled out for a failure to predict Al Qaeda's actions.

    It is also partly due to the fact that some employees in the CIA feel the administration has politicized some intelligence findings, from pushing for evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, to adopting a bellicose position vis-Ă^-vis Iran.

    On the matter of the destruction of the videotapes of the interrogation of CIA detainees, outrage in Washington has been something of a bipartisan affair. But some Republican and Democratic lawmakers do have differing narratives for what they believe may have occurred.

    Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R) of Michigan, the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, for days has complained that CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden has given misleading statements about what happened to the tapes when they were destroyed in 2005. Nor has General Hayden fully explained why the CIA felt it could do what it did, according to Representative Hoekstra.

    The GOP lawmaker has charged that the CIA has become incompetent, arrogant, and political. "You've got a systemic problem here," he said in a broadcast interview.

    Hoekstra went even further in an interview with columnist Robert Novak published in many papers on Dec. 24. The lawmaker noted that many in the GOP were upset with the recent NIE on Iran, in which the intelligence community reversed course and highlighted its conclusion that Tehran has suspended work on a nuclear weapon.

    Intelligence agencies are supposed to be dispassionate dispensers of what they believe to be facts, but the NIE contained language urging talks and other engagement with Iran, Hoekstra noted. Others have also complained that the document did not place Iran's actions in the proper context. Tehran continues to work on uranium enrichment technology, saying it is for civilian power purposes, they point out. Yet learning how to enrich uranium is the most difficult step in assembling a weapons program.

    The CIA "is acting as though it is autonomous, not accountable to anyone," Hoekstra told Novak.

    But CIA veterans have long felt that the White House – whomever is in power – is prone to use the agency as a convenient scapegoat.

    And some Democrats believe that the destruction of the tapes is an effort, not only to protect the interrogators involved, but the officials above them who ordered the use of harsh questioning techniques, including waterboarding, on the suspects in question.

    The CIA official who ordered the destruction, former clandestine service chief Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., has not been disciplined or admonished, and remains at the agency, though he is on a retirement track and will leave in several months.

    The White House was aware of the tapes' existence and the fact that the CIA was interested in getting rid of them, long before their destruction occurred, some Democrats point out. Among those who reportedly knew where David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief counsel; Alberto Gonzales, who was then White House counsel; and John Bellinger, a lawyer at the National Security Council. What did these administration lawyers tell the agency, and when did they say it? News reports have said the trio urged caution about the handling of the tapes. That wording is open to interpretation, say administration critics.Rep. Jane Harman, former top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has said the whole situation seems like "the coverup of the coverup."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  5. #75
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    The C.I.A. Tapes: Our Need to Know

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/26/op...ml?ref=opinion

    Published: December 26, 2007

    Re “9/11 Panel Study Finds That C.I.A. Withheld Tapes” (front page, Dec. 22):

    Our government’s official story regarding the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, tells us that 19 Arab hijackers successfully defeated the United States military by hijacking four commercial airliners within two hours on a budget of approximately $400,000. These men, armed only with small knives, box cutters and Mace, were able to knock down the World Trade Center towers in New York City and strike the Pentagon.

    Because our loved ones were murdered on 9/11, we felt that the details of how the hijackers succeeded should be thoroughly investigated, so we fought for an independent 9/11 Commission. It seemed logical that our government would want to know what happened so as to prevent another attack.

    When the legislation for the 9/11 Commission was passed, it gave the commissioners full subpoena power. Unfortunately, that subpoena power was rarely used.

    You report that “the panel made repeated and detailed requests to the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 and 2004 for documents and other information about the interrogation of operatives of Al Qaeda.” But while the panel did make “document requests” to the C.I.A., it did not subpoena the C.I.A. for the documents and tapes.

    A subpoena would have meant that the C.I.A. would have had to answer the commission as to whether the documents and tapes existed, and the agency would have had to explain its reasons for not turning these documents and tapes over to the panel. We would have had a paper trail about the evidence.

    You also report, “In interviews this week, the two chairmen of the commission, Lee H. Hamilton and Thomas H. Kean, said their reading of the report had convinced them that the agency had made a conscious decision to impede the Sept. 11 commission’s inquiry.”

    The question is: Are Americans satisfied with this?

    The 9/11 Commission did not fulfill its mandate to thoroughly investigate the 9/11 attacks. A real investigation into the events of Sept. 11 that examines all of the evidence has never been done and is still needed.

    Lorie Van Auken
    Mindy Kleinberg
    East Brunswick, N.J., Dec. 22, 2007
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  6. #76
    dMole Guest

    Indeed

    Quote Originally Posted by simuvac
    I agree. The CIA is a convenient black hole into which history can disappear and never be unclassified.
    Too true. CIA is often the "red-headed stepchild"/MSM whipping boy of the US intelligence octopus IMHO. Ironic that they control the media however, or is it?

  7. #77
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    CIA Tapes' Destruction Just Like Watergate
    Move May Have Violated Judge's Order

    http://www.wisn.com/helenthomas/14927212/detail.html

    Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist
    POSTED: 5:01 pm CST December 26, 2007

    When a fire broke out in Vice President Dick Cheney's ceremonial office last week, reporters quipped that someone must be burning the videotapes of the CIA interrogation of two al-Qaida detainees.

    The joke was an allusion to the administration's admission that the CIA videotapes had been destroyed. The videotapes reportedly showed the harsh interrogations and waterboarding of the prisoners in secret prisons abroad^.

    One has to wonder what other forms of torture U.S. agents shamefully adopted as their own in their unfettered drive to question prisoners.

    The New York Times had reported that the pros and cons of destroying the tapes had been discussed by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Miers, both former White House counsels; John Bellinger, then a lawyer for the White House's National Security Council; and David Addington, chief of staff to Cheney.

    The order to destroy the tapes was authorized by Jose Rodriguez, former chief of the CIA's National Clandestine Service, according to the Associated Press.

    U.S. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy had ordered the government not to destroy any evidence of mistreatment or abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but there is a question of whether the order applied to other secret CIA prisons overseas.

    This whole episode shows why the administration sends suspects to notorious foreign prisons: The American people have no power to see that they are treated decently. Who in this administration approved this disgrace on America?

    President George W. Bush told a news conference that he did not know of the existence or destruction of the tapes until he was briefed on Dec. 6 by CIA Director Michael Hayden. Bush seemed to have no concern that he had been kept in the dark about such consequential matters.

    Meantime, the Senate and House intelligence committees -- notably lax in their oversight duties -- are now getting in the act. The top members of those committees are reportedly angry that they were not fully informed about the contents of the tapes or about their destruction.

    Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, chair of the House panel, has threatened to subpoena Rodriguez and the CIA's acting general counsel, John Rizzo. They did not show up at a scheduled hearing last Tuesday.

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said that news of the videotape destruction "was extremely disturbing to me."

    Rockefeller said he has pushed for a full investigation of the CIA's detention and interrogation programs for years.

    Now he says he wants a complete chronology about the tapes and why they were destroyed, adding: "We must get to the bottom of it."

    White House officials have refused to discuss who gave the order to destroy the tapes on grounds that any comment would interfere with the Justice Department investigation. Having the Justice Department investigate this matter is like having the fox guarding the chicken coop.

    Last Friday, Judge Kennedy appeared sympathetic to the Justice Department's request for the court to back off until the department has completed its investigation.

    Justice Department officials said they could not predict how long their joint inquiry with the CIA would take.

    David Remes, a lawyer for the detainees at Guantanamo, said destruction of the tapes may have violated Kennedy's court order.

    The case has a whiff of the Watergate scandal that deposed Richard Nixon from the presidency in 1974. For example, the idea that the administration is investigating itself is strange. In Watergate, that strangeness led to the appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate.

    Newly confirmed Attorney General Michael Mukasey has already demonstrated which side he is on by refusing to turn over requested documents to the congressional panels. He also is on record that the Constitution puts the president above the law -- and that he does not know whether waterboarding constitutes torture.

    Where does the administration find such people so lacking in a moral compass or even an understanding of the constitutional powers of the presidency?

    Bring back Sen. Sam Ervin, D-N.C., and Rep. Peter Rodino, D-N.J., the late Watergate-era lawmakers who believed in the rule of law and relentlessly dug out the truth.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  8. #78
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    Confessions of a Terrorist

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...480226,00.html

    (Gold9472: Just a relevant story.)

    Sunday, Aug. 31, 2003 By JOHANNA MCGEARY

    By March 2002, the terrorist called Abu Zubaydah was one of the most wanted men on earth. A leading member of Osama bin Laden's brain trust, he is thought to have been in operational control of al-Qaeda's millennium bomb plots as well as the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in October 2000. After the spectacular success of the airliner assaults on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, he continued to devise terrorist plans.

    Seventeen months ago, the U.S. finally grabbed Zubaydah in Pakistan and has kept him locked up in a secret location ever since. His name has probably faded from most memories. It's about to get back in the news. A new book by Gerald Posner says Zubaydah has made startling revelations about secret connections linking Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and bin Laden.

    Details of that terrorism triangle form the explosive final chapter in Posner's examination of who did what wrong before Sept. 11. Most of his new book, Why America Slept (Random House), is a lean, lucid retelling of how the CIA, FBI and U.S. leaders missed a decade's worth of clues and opportunities that if heeded, Posner argues, might have forestalled the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Posner is an old hand at revisiting conspiracy theories. He wrote controversial assessments dismissing those surrounding the J.F.K. and Martin Luther King Jr. assassinations. And the Berkeley-educated lawyer is adept at marshaling an unwieldy mass of information—most of his sources are other books and news stories—into a pattern made tidy and linear by hindsight. His indictment of U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies covers well-trodden ground, though sometimes the might-have-beens and could-have-seens are stretched thin. The stuff that is going to spark hot debate is Chapter 19, an account—based on Zubaydah's claims as told to Posner by "two government sources" who are unnamed but "in a position to know"—of what two countries allied to the U.S. did to build up al-Qaeda and what they knew before that September day.

    Zubaydah's capture and interrogation, told in a gripping narrative that reads like a techno-thriller, did not just take down one of al-Qaeda's most wanted operatives but also unexpectedly provided what one U.S. investigator told Posner was "the Rosetta stone of 9/11 ... the details of what (Zubaydah) claimed was his 'work' for senior Saudi and Pakistani officials." The tale begins at 2 a.m. on March 28, 2002, when U.S. surveillance pinpointed Zubaydah in a two-story safe house in Pakistan. Commandos rousted out 62 suspects, one of whom was seriously wounded while trying to flee. A Pakistani intelligence officer and hastily made voiceprints quickly identified the injured man as Zubaydah.

    Posner elaborates in startling detail how U.S. interrogators used drugs—an unnamed "quick-on, quick-off" painkiller and Sodium Pentothal, the old movie truth serum—in a chemical version of reward and punishment to make Zubaydah talk. When questioning stalled, according to Posner, cia men flew Zubaydah to an Afghan complex fitted out as a fake Saudi jail chamber, where "two Arab-Americans, now with Special Forces," pretending to be Saudi inquisitors, used drugs and threats to scare him into more confessions.

    Yet when Zubaydah was confronted by the false Saudis, writes Posner, "his reaction was not fear, but utter relief." Happy to see them, he reeled off telephone numbers for a senior member of the royal family who would, said Zubaydah, "tell you what to do." The man at the other end would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a Westernized nephew of King Fahd's and a publisher better known as a racehorse� owner. His horse War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby in 2002. To the amazement of the U.S., the numbers proved valid. When the fake inquisitors accused Zubaydah of lying, he responded with a 10-minute monologue laying out the Saudi-Pakistani-bin Laden triangle.

    Zubaydah, writes Posner, said the Saudi connection ran through Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, the kingdom's longtime intelligence chief. Zubaydah said bin Laden "personally" told him of a 1991 meeting at which Turki agreed to let bin Laden leave Saudi Arabia and to provide him with secret funds as long as al-Qaeda refrained from promoting jihad in the kingdom. The Pakistani contact, high-ranking air force officer Mushaf Ali Mir, entered the equation, Zubaydah said, at a 1996 meeting in Pakistan also attended by Zubaydah. Bin Laden struck a deal with Mir, then in the military but tied closely to Islamists in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (isi), to get protection, arms and supplies for al-Qaeda. Zubaydah told interrogators bin Laden said the arrangement was "blessed by the Saudis."

    Zubaydah said he attended a third meeting in Kandahar in 1998 with Turki, senior isi agents and Taliban officials. There Turki promised, writes Posner, that "more Saudi aid would flow to the Taliban, and the Saudis would never ask for bin Laden's extradition, so long as al-Qaeda kept its long-standing promise to direct fundamentalism away from the kingdom." In Posner's stark judgment, the Saudis "effectively had (bin Laden) on their payroll since the start of the decade." Zubaydah told the interrogators that the Saudis regularly sent the funds through three royal-prince intermediaries he named.

    The last eight paragraphs of the book set up a final startling development. Those three Saudi princes all perished within days of one another. On July 22, 2002, Prince Ahmed was felled by a heart attack at age 43. One day later Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, 41, was killed in what was called a high-speed car accident. The last member of the trio, Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, officially "died of thirst" while traveling east of Riyadh one week later. And seven months after that, Mushaf Ali Mir, by then Pakistan's Air Marshal, perished in a plane crash in clear weather over the unruly North-West Frontier province, along with his wife and closest confidants.

    Without charging any skulduggery (Posner told TIME they "may in fact be coincidences"), the author notes that these deaths occurred after cia officials passed along Zubaydah's accusations to Riyadh and Islamabad. Washington, reports Posner, was shocked when Zubaydah claimed that "9/11 changed nothing" about the clandestine marriage of terrorism and Saudi and Pakistani interests, "because both Prince Ahmed and Mir knew that an attack was scheduled for American soil on that day." They couldn't stop it or warn the U.S. in advance, Zubaydah said, because they didn't know what or where the attack would be. And they couldn't turn on bin Laden afterward because he could expose their prior knowledge. Both capitals swiftly assured Washington that "they had thoroughly investigated the claims and they were false and malicious." The Bush Administration, writes Posner, decided that "creating an international incident and straining relations with those regional allies when they were critical to the war in Afghanistan and the buildup for possible war with Iraq, was out of the question."

    The book seems certain to kick up a political and diplomatic firestorm. The first question everyone will ask is, Is it true? And many will wonder if these matters were addressed in the 28 pages censored from Washington's official report on 9/11. It has long been suggested that Saudi Arabia probably had some kind of secret arrangement to stave off fundamentalists within the kingdom. But this appears to be the first description of a repeated, explicit quid pro quo between bin Laden and a Saudi official. Posner told TIME he got the details of Zubaydah's interrogation and revelations from a U.S. official outside the cia at a "very senior Executive Branch level" whose name we would probably know if he told it to us. He did not. The second source, Posner said, was from the cia, and he gave what Posner viewed as general confirmation of the story but did not repeat the details. There are top Bush Administration officials who have long taken a hostile view of Saudi behavior regarding terrorism and might want to leak Zubaydah's claims. Prince Turki, now Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Britain, did not respond to Posner's letters and faxes.

    There's another unanswered question. If Turki and Mir were cutting deals with bin Laden, were they acting at the behest of their governments or on their own? Posner avoids any direct statement, but the book implies that they were doing official, if covert, business. In the past, Turki has admitted—to TIME in November 2001, among others—attending meetings in '96 and '98 but insisted they were efforts to persuade Sudan and Afghanistan to hand over bin Laden. The case against Pakistan is cloudier. It is well known that Islamist elements in the isi were assisting the Taliban under the government of Nawaz Sharif. But even if Mir dealt with bin Laden, he could have been operating outside official channels.

    Finally, the details of Zubaydah's drug-induced confessions might bring on charges that the U.S. is using torture on terrorism suspects. According to Posner, the Administration decided shortly after 9/11 to permit the use of Sodium Pentothal on prisoners. The Administration, he writes, "privately believes that the Supreme Court has implicitly approved using such drugs in matters where public safety is at risk," citing a 1963 opinion.

    For those who still wonder how the attacks two years ago could have happened, Posner's book provides a tidy set of answers. But it opens up more troubling questions about crucial U.S. allies that someone will now have to address.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  9. #79
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    Details on why CIA tapes were made, destroyed

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...5_tapes30.html

    By SCOTT SHANE and MARK MAZZETTI

    The New York Times
    12/30/2007

    WASHINGTON — If Abu Zubaydah, a senior operative of al-Qaida, died in U.S. hands, CIA officers pursuing the terrorist group knew that much of the world would believe they had killed him.

    So in spring 2002, as the intelligence officers flew in a surgeon from Johns Hopkins Hospital to treat Abu Zubaydah, who had been shot three times during his capture in Pakistan, they set up video cameras to record his every moment: asleep in his cell, having his bandages changed, being questioned by interrogators.

    Current and former intelligence officials said the agency's action concerning the interrogation videotapes was prompted, in part, by worry about how its conduct might be perceived by Congress, by prosecutors, by the U.S. public and by Muslims worldwide.

    What drove decision
    This worry drove the decision to begin taping interrogations — and to stop taping just months later, after the treatment of prisoners had escalated to include waterboarding. And it fueled the nearly three-year campaign by the agency's clandestine service for permission to destroy the tapes, culminating in a November 2005 destruction order from the director of the service, Jose Rodriguez Jr.

    The Justice Department, the CIA's inspector general and Congress are conducting investigations to determine whether any official lied about the tapes or broke the law by destroying them. Still in dispute is whether any White House official encouraged the destruction of the tapes and whether the CIA hid the tapes from the national Sept. 11 commission.

    Interviews with two dozen current and former officials, most of whom would speak about the classified program only on the condition of anonymity, revealed new details about why the tapes were made and then eliminated.

    Had there been no political or security considerations, videotaping every interrogation and preserving the tapes would make sense, several intelligence officials said.

    "You couldn't have more than one or two analysts in the room," said A.B. Krongard, the CIA's No. 3 official at the time the interrogations were taped. "You want people with spectacular language skills to watch the tapes. You want your top al-Qaida experts to watch the tapes. You want psychologists to watch the tapes. You want interrogators in training to watch the tapes."

    Given such advantages, why was the taping stopped by the end of 2002, less than a year after it started? "By that time," Krongard said, "paranoia was setting in."

    By several accounts, the decision to begin taping Abu Zubaydah and another detainee suspected of being an al-Qaida operative, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was made in the field, with several goals in mind.

    First, there was Abu Zubaydah's condition, one former intelligence official said.

    Just as important was that for many years the CIA had rarely conducted standard interrogations, so officials wanted to track the use of interrogation methods.

    But months later, the taping was stopped. Some field officers had never liked the idea. "If you're a case officer, the last thing you want is someone in Washington second-guessing everything you did," said one former agency veteran.

    More significant, interrogations of Abu Zubaydah had gotten rougher, with each new tactic approved by cable from headquarters.

    Torture technique
    U.S. officials have said Abu Zubaydah was the first al-Qaida prisoner to be waterboarded, a procedure during which water is poured over the prisoner's mouth and nose to simulate drowning. Officials thought they could not risk a leak of film showing Americans giving such treatment to bound prisoners.

    By late 2002, interrogators were recycling videotapes, preserving only two days of tapes before recording over them, one CIA officer said. Finally, senior agency officials decided written summaries of prisoners' answers would suffice.

    That decision still left hundreds of hours of videotape of the two al-Qaida figures locked in an overseas safe.

    Clandestine service officers who had overseen the interrogations began pushing hard to destroy the tapes. But George Tenet, then director of central intelligence, was wary, in part because the agency's top lawyer, Scott Muller, advised against it, current and former officials said.

    Yet agency officials decided to float the idea of eliminating the tapes on Capitol Hill. In February 2003, Muller told members of the House and Senate oversight committees about the CIA's interest in destroying the tapes.

    Porter Goss, then a Republican congressman from Florida and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and the ranking Democrat, Rep. Jane Harman, of California, thought destroying the tapes would be legally and politically risky. CIA officials did not press the matter.

    Scrutiny of the CIA's secret detention program kept building. Later in 2003, the agency's inspector general, John Helgerson, began investigating the program.

    He completed his investigation in April 2004, according to one person briefed on the still-secret report, which concluded some of the CIA's techniques appeared to constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment under the international Convention Against Torture.

    A month later, as the administration reeled from the Abu Ghraib revelations, Muller, the agency general counsel, met to discuss the report with three senior lawyers at the White House: Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel; David Addington, legal adviser for Vice President Dick Cheney; and John Bellinger, top lawyer at the National Security Council.

    One Bush administration official said that, according to notes of the discussion, Bellinger advised the CIA against destroying the tapes.

    After Tenet and Muller left the CIA in mid-2004, Rodriguez and other officials decided again to take up the tapes with the new chief at Langley, Goss, the former congressman.

    Rodriguez had taken over the clandestine directorate in late 2004.

    At a meeting in Goss' office with Rodriguez, John Rizzo, who had replaced Muller as the agency's top lawyer, told the new CIA director the clandestine branch wanted a decision on the tapes. According to two people close to Goss, he told them he thought the tapes should be preserved.

    In November 2005, Rodriguez and his aides decided to destroy the tapes, officials said.

    One official said Rodriguez and his aides were concerned about protection of the CIA officers on the tapes.

    "We didn't want them to become political scapegoats," he said.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  10. #80
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    Looking at America

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/op...th&oref=slogin

    Published: December 31, 2007

    There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

    It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

    The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

    Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

    In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

    We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

    Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

    The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.

    Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.

    In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

    The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

    These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

    We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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