From the Guardian Unlimited:
The CIA destroyed video evidence of the coercive interrogation of al-Qaida operatives held under its secret rendition programme in order to shield agents from prosecution, it was revealed yesterday.
The decision to destroy two videotapes documenting the use of waterboarding against Abu Zubaydah and another high-value al-Qaida detainee was made in November 2005 – as American media were just beginning to focus on the existence of the secret CIA prison network.
“The tapes posed a serious security risk,” the CIA’s director, Michael Hayden, told agency employees in a statement yesterday. “Were they ever to leak, they would permit identification of your CIA colleagues who had served in the programme, exposing them and their families to retaliation from al-Qaida and its sympathisers.”
Ummmm, any television show can pixelate faces and distort voices. The CIA can’t? Hell, they blacked out half of Valerie Plame’s book! They can’t figure out a way to make sure a CIA agent cannot be recognized on film? Or how ’bout this, genius–don’t show the damned tapes to anyone who is not supposed to see them!! But let’s continue…..
Hayden’s message to CIA employees went out a day after he learned that the New York Times planned to publish an article today about destruction of the videotapes.
Thank goodness there are still a few real journalists out there sniffing out the truth, or we wouldn’t know what the hell was really going on.
[…]it raises the prospect that the CIA withheld information from and obstructed the work of the commission investigating the September 11 attacks as well as lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 11th hijacker. Officials from the September 11 commission told the New York Times yesterday they had formally requested from the CIA evidence of interrogations, and had been informed that all materials had been handed over.
The Washington Post, which also carried a story on its website yesterday about the destroyed videotapes, reported that the order to destroy the tapes came from Jose Rodriguez Jr, then the director of the CIA’s clandestine operations.
(Jose Rodriguez Jr. is the man pictured with Hayden above, in case you were wondering who the other thug was.)
Let’s set the scene. It’s 2005, and the
rubber-stamp Republicans were in charge in the House and Senate. The Chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees (Porter Goss and John Warner, respectively) were made aware of what was going on, including the destruction of the tapes. The Democrats on the committees? Bupkus! Nada! Zilch!
Hayden said the interrogations were filmed in 2002 after George Bush authorised the use of harsh interrogation, including the controversial practice of controlled drowning, known as waterboarding, against al-Qaida suspects.
Paging Attorney General Michael Mukasey! Michael Mukasey, please come to the front desk. Mr. Mukasey, we have a little question for you about waterboarding!
It has long been believed that Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi believed to be a close associated of Osama bin Laden, was subjected to harsh treatment following his capture in Pakistan in March 2002.
The footage would have clarified what practices such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation – both of which a gravely wounded Abu Zubaydah was subjected to – involve.
Democrats in both the Senate and House of Representatives called for congressional investigations.
Sen. John [Jay] Rockefeller of West Virginia, Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Congress did not learn about the tapes’ destruction until November 2006 — two months after the full panel was briefed on the interrogation program.
DESTRUCTION OF EVIDENCE
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said the tapes’ destruction was another troubling aspect of the interrogation program. “The damage is compounded when such actions are hidden away from accountability,” he said in a statement.
The news also drew fire from the American Civil Liberties Union, which has mounted a legal effort to acquire Justice Department documents it believes authorized harsh interrogations.
“The destruction of these tapes suggests an utter disregard for the rule of law. It was plainly a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence that could have been used to hold CIA agents accountable for the torture of prisoners,” ACLU National Security Project Director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.
Hayden said […] that new techniques were needed to obtain information from Zubaydah and others.
He said the techniques were “lawful, safe and effective,” and approved by the Justice Department and executive branch. But the CIA wanted to make sure it was within the law, “So, on its own, the CIA began to videotape interrogations,” he said.
Federal prosecutors revealed last month the CIA erroneously told a court in the Moussaoui case it did not have any interrogation recordings of certain “enemy combatants,” when it in fact had two videotapes and an audiotape.
Approved by the Justice Department? Gee, it’s a damned shame that
Gonzo Alberto Gonzales probably doesn’t remember a thing about all of this. The little man would have enjoyed the memories.