CIA Cable 'Granting Permission' to Destroy Torture Videotapes Surfaces
A January 8 release of documents in the ACLU FOIA lawsuit seeking
materials related to the CIA's destruction of videotapes of
interrogators using "enhanced interrogation techniques" has revealed
the first evidence of a precise instruction for the destruction of
According to Rachel Myers at the ACLU, while there was previous
evidence of requests from the "field" that the videotapes be destroyed,
this is our first verification of the exact date CIA headquarters gave
The approval came in the form of "a two-page cable discussing a proposal and granting permission to destroy the videotapes."
(emphasis added) The cable was sent from "HQ" to the "Field" on
November 8, 2005, the same day an earlier request was made from the
"Field". Confirmation of the destruction of the tapes was already
revealed in a cable "from the field to CIA headquarters, confirming the
destruction of the videotapes." (11/20/2009 Vaughn Index 4).
Requests for destruction of interrogation videotapes, and
discussions around such an action are documented as far back as
September 2002 (11/20/2009 Vaughn Index 55). It's presumed that these
requests came from the Thailand CIA black site where Abu Zubaydah had
been an experimental victim of the new so-called enhanced interrogation
techniques, which were based on stress inoculation torture survival schools
for the military, known as SERE. Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce
Jessen, formerly of SERE and its parent agency, Joint Personnel
Recovery Agency (JPRA)
The new cable has been withheld, citing numerous FOIA "exemptions,"
as have hundreds of other such pieces of evidence, including emails and
draft memoranda, by the CIA. Its existence is revealed as part of a
Vaughn index of withheld documents, wherein some description of the
document is given, in addition to the reasons for withholding the
The "permission" cable is Document 154 in Part 6 of the latest Vaughn release/dump. It's on pg. 13 out of 35 (all doc links are PDF). A full timeline
on the CIA videotape destruction actions, which has not however been
updated for the latest crop of documents, has been put together by the
ACLU. All the documents released thus far can be accessed here.
Emptywheel has been covering this issue from the beginning. For instance, see this relevant story, wherein EW reports that "The CIA Asked to Destroy Torture Tapes on Same Day They Claimed They Didn't Torture."
Meanwhile, the investigation into the destruction of the videotapes,
with prosecutor John Durham leading, has languished for over two years
now. While justice is supposed to be blind and disinterested, the
investigation will probably go nowhere unless public pressure is put on
the Department of Justice and the Obama administration to hold the
- The CIA Asked to Destroy Torture Tapes on Same Day They Claimed They Didn't Torture
- CIA OIG's Wild Parsing about What Was "Depicted" on the Torture Tapes
- CIA: A Different Kind of Derivative Trading
- CIA Met with White House about How to Respond to Jane Harman's Torture Warnings
- Found: The OGC Review. Still Missing: Legal Plausibility.