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Thread: CIA Admits It Destroyed Tapes Of Interrogations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    CIA Admits It Destroyed Tapes Of Interrogations

    CIA admits it destroyed tapes of interrogations

    By Mark Mazzetti
    Published: December 6, 2007

    WASHINGTON: The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency's custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the CIA's secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

    The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in CIA custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said. The CIA said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made "within the CIA itself," and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.

    The existence and subsequent destruction of the tapes are likely to reignite the debate over the use of severe interrogation techniques on terror suspects, and their destruction raises questions about whether CIA officials withheld information from the courts and from the presidentially appointed Sept. 11 commission about aspects of the program. It was not clear who within the CIA authorized the destruction of the tapes, but current and former government officials said it had been approved at the highest levels of the agency.

    The Times informed the CIA on Wednesday evening that it planned to publish in Friday's newspaper an article about the destruction of the tapes.. Today, the CIA director, General Michael V. Hayden, wrote a letter to the agency workforce explaining the matter.

    The recordings were not provided to a federal court hearing the case of the terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui or to the Sept. 11 commission, which had made formal requests to the CIA for transcripts and any other documentary evidence taken from interrogations of agency prisoners.

    CIA lawyers told federal prosecutors in 2003 and 2005, who relayed the information to a federal court in the Moussaoui case, that the CIA did not possess recordings of interrogations sought by the judge in the case. It was unclear whether the judge had explicitly sought the videotape depicting the interrogation of Zubaydah.

    Moussaoui's lawyers had hoped that records of the interrogations might provide exculpatory evidence for Moussaoui — showing that the Al Qaeda detainees did not know Moussaoui and clearing him of involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, plot.

    General Hayden's statement said that the tapes posed a "serious security risk," and that if they were to become public they would have exposed CIA officials "and their families to retaliation from Al Qaeda and its sympathizers."

    "What matters here is that it was done in line with the law," he said. He said in his statement that he was informing agency employees because "the press has learned" about the destruction of the tapes.

    General Hayden said in a statement that leaders of Congressional oversight committees were fully briefed on the matter, but some Congressional officials said notification to Congress had not been adequate.

    "This is a matter that should have been briefed to the full Intelligence Committee at the time," an official with the House Intelligence Committee said. "This does not appear to have been done. There may be a very logical reason for destroying records that are no longer needed; however, this requires a more complete explanation. "

    Staff members of the Sept. 11 commission, which completed its work in 2004, expressed surprise when they were told that interrogation videotapes existed until 2005.

    "The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request," said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission and later as a senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

    "No tapes were acknowledged or turned over, nor was the commission provided with any transcript prepared from recordings," he said.

    Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.

    If tapes were destroyed, he said, "it's a big deal, it's a very big deal," because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.

    General Hayden said the tapes were originally made to ensure that agency employees acted in accordance with "established legal and policy guidelines." General Hayden said the agency stopped videotaping interrogations in 2002.

    "The tapes were meant chiefly as an additional, internal check on the program in its early stages," his statement read

    In October, federal prosecutors in the Moussaoui case were forced to write a letter to the court amending those CIA declarations. The letter stated that in September, the CIA notified the United States attorney's office in Alexandria, Va., that it had discovered a videotape documenting the interrogation of a detainee. After a more thorough search, the letter stated, CIA officials discovered a second videotape and one audio tape.

    The letter is heavily redacted and sentences stating which detainees' interrogations the recordings document are blacked out. Signed by the United States attorney, Chuck Rosenberg, the letter states that the CIA's search for interrogation tapes "appears to be complete."

    There is no mention in the letter of the tapes that CIA officials destroyed last year. Moussaoui was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison.

    John Radsan, who worked as a CIA lawyer from 2002 to 2004 and is now a professor at William Mitchell College of Law, said the destruction of the tapes could carry serious legal penalties.

    "If anybody at the CIA hid anything important from the Justice Department, he or she should be prosecuted under the false statement statute," he said.

    A former intelligence official who was briefed on the issue said the videotaping was ordered as a way of assuring "quality control" at remote sites following reports of unauthorized interrogation techniques. He said the tapes, along with still photographs of interrogations, were destroyed after photographs of abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib became public in May 2004 and CIA officers became concerned about a possible leak of the videos and photos.

    He said the worries about the impact a leak of the tapes might have in the Muslim world were real.

    It has been widely reported that Zubaydah was subjected to several tough physical tactics, including waterboarding, which involves near-suffocation. But CIA officers judged that the release of photos or videos would nonetheless provoke a strong reaction.

    "People know what happened, but to see it in living color would have far greater power," the official said.

    Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, has been pushing legislation in Congress to have all detainee interrogations videotaped so officials can refer to the tapes multiple times to glean better information.

    Holt said he had been told many times that the CIA does not record the interrogation of detainees. "When I would ask them whether they had reviewed the tapes to better understand the intelligence, they said 'What tapes?'," he said.

    Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane contributed reporting.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    simuvac Guest
    Ah! You beat me to it by a few minutes! I just posted this under New News....

    Can you fucking believe this shit?

  3. #3
    simuvac Guest
    Add another case of obstruction of justice to the 9/11 Commission fiasco.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    I'm somewhat suspicious of Zelikow making that statement. Almost as if they were trying to make the CIA the scapegoat.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  5. #5
    simuvac Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Gold9472
    I'm somewhat suspicious of Zelikow making that statement. Almost as if they were trying to make the CIA the scapegoat.
    If I were to speculate madly, I would say there never were any tapes.

    Of course, your reading is saner. Like you say, it gets Zelikow off the hook, and makes it appear like yet another CIA cock-up (which, of course, is fully justified under the law).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Well... the CIA has always been the "scapegoat" of 9/11... The one organization that gets the most "heat."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  7. #7
    N320AW Guest
    It's amazing how the guilty seem to always dig their hole just a little deeper!

  8. #8
    AuGmENTor Guest
    What's MORE amazing is that they get away with it!

  9. #9
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    But it's all over the news...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    C.I.A. Was Urged to Keep Interrogation Videotapes

    Published: December 8, 2007

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — White House and Justice Department officials, along with senior members of Congress, advised the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 against a plan to destroy hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda, government officials said Friday.

    The chief of the agency’s clandestine service nevertheless ordered their destruction in November 2005, taking the step without notifying even the C.I.A.’s own top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, who was angry at the decision, the officials said.

    The disclosures provide new details about what Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, has said was a decision “made within C.I.A. itself” to destroy the videotapes. In interviews, members of Congress and former intelligence officials also questioned some aspects of the account General Hayden provided Thursday about when Congress was notified that the tapes had been destroyed.

    Current and former intelligence officials say the videotapes showed severe interrogation techniques used on two Qaeda operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who were among the first three terror suspects to be detained and interrogated by the C.I.A. in secret prisons after the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Top C.I.A. officials had decided in 2003 to preserve the tapes in response to warnings from White House lawyers and lawmakers that destroying the tapes would be unwise, in part because it could carry legal risks, the government officials said.

    But the government officials said that Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the chief of the agency’s clandestine service, the Directorate of Operations, had reversed that decision in November 2005, at a time when Congress and the courts were inquiring deeply into the C.I.A.’s interrogation and detention program. Mr. Rodriguez could not be reached Friday for comment.

    As the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in 2003, Porter J. Goss, then a Republican congressman from Florida, was among Congressional leaders who warned the C.I.A. against destroying the tapes, the former intelligence officials said. Mr. Goss became C.I.A. director in 2004 and was serving in the post when the tapes were destroyed, but was not informed in advance about Mr. Rodriguez’s decision, the former officials said.

    It was not until at least a year after the destruction of the tapes that any members of Congress were informed about the action, the officials said. On Friday, Representative Peter Hoekstra, the Michigan Republican who was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2006, said he had never been told that the tapes were destroyed.

    “I think the intelligence committee needs to get all over this,” said Mr. Hoekstra, who has been a strong supporter of the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program. “This raises a red flag that needs to be looked at.”

    The first notification to Congress by the C.I.A. about the videotapes was delivered to a small group of senior lawmakers in February 2003 by Scott W. Muller, then the agency’s general counsel. Government officials said that Mr. Muller had told the lawmakers that the C.I.A. intended to destroy the interrogation tapes, arguing that they were no longer of any intelligence value and that the interrogations they showed put agency operatives who appeared in the tapes at risk.

    At the time of the briefing in February 2003, the lawmakers who advised Mr. Muller not to destroy the tapes included both Mr. Goss and Representative Jane Harman of California, who was the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Ms. Harman described her role on Friday. Mr. Goss’s role was described by former intelligence officials.

    According to two government officials, Mr. Muller then raised the idea of destroying the tapes during discussions in 2003 with Justice Department lawyers and with Harriet E. Miers, who was then a deputy White House chief of staff. Ms. Miers became White House counsel in early 2005.

    The officials said that Ms. Miers and the Justice Department lawyers had advised against destroying the tapes, but that it was not clear what the basis for their advice had been.

    A message left at Mr. Muller’s law office on Friday was not returned, and White House officials would not comment about Ms. Miers’s role.

    It was also not clear when the White House or Justice Department were told that the tapes had been destroyed, or whether anyone at either place was notified in advance that Mr. Rodriguez had ordered that the step be taken. Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, said Friday that President Bush had “no recollection” of being made aware of the tapes’ destruction before Thursday, when General Hayden briefed him on the matter.

    In his message to C.I.A. employees on Thursday, General Hayden said that the leaders of the intelligence committee had been informed of the agency’s “intention to dispose of the material,” but he did not say when that notification took place.

    Several former intelligence officials also said there was great concern that the tapes, which recorded hours of grueling interrogations, could have set off controversies about the legality of the interrogations and generate a backlash in the Middle East.

    According to one former intelligence official, the C.I.A. then decided to keep the tapes at the C.I.A. stations in the countries where Abu Zubaydah and Mr. Nashiri were interrogated.

    Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan, and it has been reported that he was taken to Thailand for part of his interrogation. It is unclear where Mr. Nashiri was interrogated by C.I.A. operatives.

    Mr. Nashiri, a Qaeda operations chief in the Arabian Peninsula until his capture in 2002, is thought to have planned the October 2000 bombing of the destroyer Cole in Yemen.

    The current and former intelligence officials said that when Mr. Rodriguez ultimately decided in late 2005 to destroy the tapes, he did so without advising Mr. Rizzo, Mr. Muller’s successor as the agency’s top general counsel. Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Goss were among the C.I.A. officials who were angry when told that the tapes had been destroyed, the officials said.

    Mr. Rodriguez retired from the agency this year.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee announced Friday that it was starting an investigation into the destruction of the videotapes.

    Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the committee, said, “Whatever the intent, we must get to the bottom of it.”
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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