Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 2, 2009

DESTROYING EVIDENCE.... The New York Times reported in December 2007 that the CIA "destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency's custody" in 2005. The videos in question included the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, and remain the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.

As it turns out, "at least two" was a dramatic understatement.

New documents show the CIA destroyed nearly 100 tapes of terror interrogations, far more than has previously been acknowledged.

The revelation Monday comes as a criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation in the matter.

The acknowledgment of dozens of destroyed tapes came in a letter filed by government lawyers in New York, where the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking more details of terror interrogation programs.

"The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed," said the letter by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin. "Ninety two videotapes were destroyed."

Destroying two interrogation videos is obstruction of justice. Destroying 92 interrogation videos is a systemic cover-up of widespread lawbreaking.

As the ACLU noted, the U.S. Attorney's letter "provides further evidence for holding the CIA in contempt of court. The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systemic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court's order."

And let's also not forget that the CIA's explanation for all of this has never made a lick of sense.

Steve Benen 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (12)

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How many video tapes did/do they have ? If they have hundreds/thousands, one can assume they destroyed the most incriminating. If they only had 92, one can assume they destroyed all evidence. I would be shocked if they didn't destroy other evidence, because if you are going to destroy one, you did the crime and therefore you destroy all of them.

Posted by: ScottW on March 2, 2009 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Has anybody checked Cheney's video rack?

Posted by: anonymous on March 2, 2009 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

As it turns out, "at least two" was a dramatic understatement. -- Steve Benen

The first two were the ones where some heart-searching went on -- to destroy or not and, if to destroy, how to do it to give the CYB to the biggest number of people involved. Once that was done, the decision about the next 90 was not worth talking about, much less agonising about.

Posted by: exlibra on March 2, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The rationalization makes perfect sense as long as Cheney runs the government.

Posted by: OKDem on March 2, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

New documents show the CIA destroyed nearly 100 tapes

Winning comment from the a lick of sense link (PoliticalAnimal Dec '07) goes to Jersey Missouri who asked what happened to the other two hunderd tapes.

Posted by: Danp on March 2, 2009 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

OK, make 'em pay (since they're just covering for messing up and not excusable per genuine security, etc. IMHO and that of most observers FWIW.) Now, let's get to work on those leftover lost W-house emails ...

Posted by: Neil B ◙ on March 2, 2009 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

My goodness, the things that the CIA does to people in our names... I think it's safe to assume that the torture techniques employed in those 92 videos were the most egregious: the kinds of things that would made a Turkish warden blush.

Thanks, CIA, you're doing a heckuva job!

Posted by: rusrus on March 2, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

The CIA exists behind multiple layers of stealth and deceit. We allow and expect it to operate in this way, yet we also cherish the illusion that the fruits of its labors will sparkle with truth and clarity--even if only for the few who have access.

The CIA has a solid and growing record of misrepresenting itself as well as the intelligence it is paid to gather. Every day, somewhere in the world, the CIA is doing things it shouldn't be doing, hiding evidence of its misdeeds, blaming others for its transgressions and shortcomings, and attacking anyone who questions its integrity.

In the case of the "missing" tapes, we know that the agency did things it wasn't supposed to do, paraded the results of its crimes before similarly depraved monsters, lied to others about its actions and intentions, and destroyed evidence and witnesses. This all took place while people who had the power and the knowledge could have stopped it.

The same questions must be asked of everyone who had even secondary knowledge of what was going on: What did you do to stop it? If you did nothing, why did you betray your country and your profession? If you did something, what did you do and where did your efforts end (who sat on the lid). Torturers and killers continue to wander free, many of them still on the government payroll. They know who they are, and so do the people who worked with them.

Posted by: Boolaboola on March 2, 2009 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

First two then 92. And the real number is? I can't imagine that anyone outside or inside the CIA knows the answer. Unless and until there is a wholesale house cleaning, with indictments to match, nothing of substance will come of this. Even then the State's Secret policy will trump everything. Face it folks, it's a secret parallel government, and it's been there for over fifty years.

Posted by: rich on March 2, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

2 or 92 - Hey, it's hard to keep these things straight, especially when you're trying to manage international drug trafficking shipments, mind control experiments, and other fun stuff like that.

Posted by: CIA on March 2, 2009 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Also one more piece of evidence (as if we needed more) that torture doesn't work, and that these torturers were in it for the thrills.

If there had been a shred of useful information to be gained from those tapes, either about preventing actual terrorist attacks, or about how to conduct interrogations to elicit stuff someone might want to know, they would have been preserved and carefully studied, not tossed in a shredder and their existence denied.

Posted by: paul on March 2, 2009 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Sure there were a hundred TAPES, but honest....there were only a couple of actual tortures...all conducted and authorized by a few unauthorized rogues operating without our knowledge.

All the tapes were because Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted them shot from all angles.

Posted by: dweb on March 2, 2009 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK



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