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 C.I.A’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 C.I.A. 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.
But, hey, stuff happens to subpoenaed evidence all the time. You can't expect the CIA to be Martha Stewart about this stuff. I mean, operational security was at stake. What else could they do? The CIA simply doesn't have the kind of technology or training to keep videotapes a secret.
Plus, if anybody saw the tapes, Agency officials could have gotten in trouble for all the illegal things that they certainly were not doing on those tapes. The only way to ensure that justice was done was to pretend the tapes didn't exist.
Speaking of which, Patterico is objecting to some tribunal procedures at Guantanamo...
Some of the main problems: Detainees lack access to the prosecution’s evidence. They lack the right to present their own evidence. There is a rebuttable presumption in favor of the Government’s evidence. Detainees lack the right to counsel, and what access they do have to counsel is severely restricted. [...] For example, the petitioners in the Boumediene case allege — and the Government does not dispute — that they never waged war on the United States. According to their brief, they were arrested in Bosnia under pressure from the U.S. Government, which contended that they had conspired to attack the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. After an international investigation (conducted with the aid of the U.S. Embassy) failed to substantiate the charges, a tribunal established under the Dayton Peace Agreement ordered them released. They were on the verge of being released when they were snatched by Bosnian police (again acting under pressure from the U.S.) and transferred to U.S. military personnel, who took them to Guantanamo in January 2002.
They’ve been held there ever since — for almost six years.
I don’t know what evidence the U.S. has against them. But neither do they...
Obviously, Patterico is forgetting the Uncertainty Principle of the War on Terror. We cannot simultaneously follow the rule of law and do the right thing. Terrorists are known to play tricks with causality, you know, so it's very important that we never let people in on things. In case they're terrorists.
Sure, it's a shame about the predicament of the potentially innocent people at Guantanamo, but they should look on the bright side: at least Congress is conducting oversight! As long as the detainees don't get subpoenaed, they should be fine.
This will never improve as long as Congresspersons are threatened with arrest and imprisonment for discussing classified information. As things are right now, they’re all completely intimidated from discussing anything publicly that any executive branch agency decides is "classified".
Senior Congressional leaders have to grant themselves the power to have their own independent declassification authority. It’s the only thing that could possibly even begin to fix this.
Mystifyingly, the CIA decided to tape-record some early interrogation sessions involving two notorious terrorists: “Abu Zubaydah” (real name: Zein al-Abideen Mohamed Hussein), a close associate of Osama bin Laden; and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the mastermind of the 2000 bombing that killed 17 Navy personnel aboard the U.S.S. Cole. The CIA was under no legal obligation to make the recordings. It has explained that the tapes’ purpose was to ensure compliance with “established legal and policy guidelines,” but there are many ways of doing that without making tapes. Indeed, it is standard practice at the FBI and other federal agencies not to electronically record interrogations.
Predictably, the existence of the recordings became a severe problem for the CIA. If the tapes were leaked, they would give the enemy valuable information about our interrogation methods (al-Qaeda trains its operatives to resist known tactics) and the state of our intelligence on terrorist operations. They would expose and potentially endanger CIA officers who carried out interrogations under orders from their superiors, relying on legal guidance from the Justice Department. Worst of all, they might become a powerful propaganda tool in the hands of Islamists.
With the "leakage" problem at the CIA during this administration it is not hard to imagine that tape getting out, either through subpeona or more clandestine methods.
Additionally, I’ve heard that the tapes were not made at Gitmi and therefore were not subject to the court order...
We shall see....
But yes, let’s investigate so it comes out that Dem leaders as well were fully briefed and approved of what was on the tapes in question.