The CIA has destroyed 92 tapes of interrogations of “terror” suspects, far more than previously acknowledged, government lawyers said March 2 in a letter filed as part of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systematic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations,” said the ACLU’s Amrit Singh.
Singh said the tape destruction violated a 2004 order by US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in New York to preserve the material. She said the CIA should be held in contempt. Responded CIA spokesman George Little in an e-mailed statement: “If anyone thinks that it’s agency policy to impede the enforcement of American law, they simply don’t know the facts.”
The letter, from acting US attorney Lev Dassiv, also said the CIA was gathering a list of the destroyed records, any secondary accounts that described the contents, and the identities of those who may have viewed or possessed the recordings before they were destroyed. But government lawyers said some of the information, such as the names of CIA employees who viewed the tapes, may be classified. The news comes as a Justice Department investigation into the tapes’ destruction, opened in January 2008, is reportedly near completion.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the revelation “is not good. It’s sad.” Under the leadership of President Barack Obama’s new CIA director, Leon Panetta, the CIA will have “the tools they need to keep us safe, but do so in a way that also protects our values,” Gibbs said. (AlJazeera, Bloomberg, March 2)
See our last post on the torture scandal.