Friday :: Apr 16, 2010

Bush CIA Director Approved Of Destruction Of Torture Tapes

by Turkana

The Bush era destruction of videotapes showing the torture of terrorist suspects has been just one of many continuing criminal outrages for which there has yet to be a full accounting. We now know that this crime was approved of by Bush's CIA Director.

New York Times:

Porter J. Goss, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in 2005 approved of the decision by one of his top aides to destroy dozens of videotapes documenting the brutal interrogation of two detainees, according to an internal C.I.A. document released Thursday.

Shortly after the tapes were destroyed at the order of Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, Mr. Goss told Mr. Rodriguez that he “agreed” with the decision, according to the document. He even joked after Mr. Rodriguez offered to “take the heat” for destroying the tapes.

“PG laughed and said that actually, it would be he, PG, who would take the heat,” according to one document, an internal C.I.A. e-mail message.

Goss did not pre-approve the destruction of the tapes, and was displeased that Rodriguez didn't seek approval from himself or the top CIA lawyer, but his response did signal that it was acceptable behavior, going forward. Destroying evidence of a crime against humanity. And he laughed about it.

The Associated Press adds:

The documents show that, despite Goss' apparent agreement, CIA officials almost immediately began worrying they'd done something wrong. The e-mails also indicate that President George W. Bush's White House counsel, Harriet Miers, hadn't been informed of the tapes' destruction and was "livid" to find out later.

The videos showed CIA interrogators using waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique that's widely considered torture, on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah. The videos showed that interrogators did not follow the waterboarding procedures authorized by the Bush administration, the documents indicate.

In other words, everyone knew there were serious legal questions about the tapes' destruction. But Goss approved the behavior, anyway.

The AP:

"These documents provide further evidence that senior CIA officials were willing to risk being prosecuted for obstruction of justice in order to avoid being prosecuted for torture," ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said. "If the Department of Justice fails to hold these officials accountable, they will have succeeded in their cover-up."

Scott Horton sets the wider context:

At first, it was reported that two tapes had gone missing. The story grabbed Washington’s attention, drew print media headlines, and raised such a storm that Bush’s last attorney general was forced to appoint a special prosecutor, John Durham, to investigate the matter. But then it became clear that there were “several” tapes, not just two. And a few months later, when few were still tracking the matter, it became known that the number was ninety-two. One or two tapes might be destroyed inadvertently, of course, but ninety-two? That was the product of a conscious decision, which likely involved a number of people.

As Horton points out, destruction of the tapes initially was blamed on a rogue CIA agent, and this story now proves that a lie. He also points out that Durham continues to investigate the matter, and after two years does not appear to be backing away or backing down. Their destruction constituted suppression of evidence in numerous legal proceedings. And that is a serious crime. The standard Bush Administration technique of passing the buck down the chain of command is not going to work, in this case.


But these disclosures suggest that the decision was taken with the approval of the highest level at the CIA, and it’s still too early to rule out approvals at still higher levels.

Criminals should be held accountable. No matter who they are.

Turkana :: 12:06 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!