Federal judge sets timetable for reports on CIA torture tape destruction

A judge in the Southern District of New York March 27 ordered the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to release reports on the destruction of 92 videotapes of terrorism suspect interrogations within the next 30 days or explain why it should not do so. Judge Alvin Hellerstein directed the CIA to disclose the reports along with a list of witnesses as part of the ongoing lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in an effort to access government materials on the interrogations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The ACLU argues that destruction of the videotapes violated a 2004 order by Hellerstein which instructed the CIA to turn over all records pertaining to the treatment of detainees, and that the CIA should be held in contempt for failing to preserve the records. A criminal probe into the destruction of the videotapes is currently ongoing.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice acknowledged the CIA destroyed the videotapes in response to an August 2008 judicial order that the CIA turn over information regarding the tapes or provide specific justifications on why it could not release the information. Additionally, the DoJ admitted in court documents that twelve of the 92 videotapes destroyed by the CIA contained evidence of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The ACLU brought its lawsuit after the October 2003 request filed by the ACLU under FOIA for information pertaining to US held detainees in overseas facilities received in answer only a set of media talking points used by the Department of State. (Jurist, March 28)

See our last posts on the torture scandal.

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