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December 7, 2007
CIA Destroys Two Interrogation Tapes
The New York Times is reporting that the CIA destroyed two videotapes showing the interrogation of a high value al-Qaeda suspect where "severe interrogation methods" were used:
The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terrorism suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. The tapes were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that video showing harsh interrogation methods could expose agency officials to legal risks, several officials said. The problem for the CIA is that not only had the 9/11 Commission requested of the CIA all relevant materials relating to the interrogation of al-Qaeda prisoners but that the judge in the Zacarias Moussaoui case also requested these tapes because they contained potential exculpatory evidence in the terrorist's trial.
In a statement to employees on Thursday, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, said that the decision to destroy the tapes was made “within the C.I.A.” and that they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value.
As it turns out, the CIA informed select members of the House and Senate Intelligence Commitees including the ranking House minority leader at the time Jane Harman. The California Congresswoman claims she sent a letter to the CIA requesting that they not destroy the tapes. At the time, the Congress was investigating the "enhanced interrogation procedures" that had been approved by President Bush.
It is unclear whether any laws were broken with the destruction of the tapes. But given the subject matter, it is a certainty that there will be some kind of Congressional hearings on the matter.