ACLU Obtains New Information About Destruction Of Torture Tapes

For Immediate Release

ACLU Obtains New Information About Destruction Of Torture Tapes

Documents Reveal Date Tapes Were Destroyed And Earlier White House Involvement Than Previously Known

NEW YORK - Records
obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit reveal new information about the CIA's
destruction of videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of
prisoners at CIA black sites, including the precise date the tapes were
destroyed and evidence that the White House was involved in early
discussions about the proposed destruction. The new records, obtained
by the ACLU late last week, consist principally of an index of CIA
documents relating to the destruction of the tapes. The documents
themselves have been withheld in their entirety, purportedly for
reasons relating to national security. 

"The chronology outlined in this new
index supplies further evidence that the CIA destroyed the videotapes
in order to prevent the public from learning the full scope of the
CIA's torture program, and further evidence that the Bush White House
was on notice that the CIA intended to destroy the tapes," said Jameel
Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "We continue to
believe that the CIA's destruction of the tapes constituted contempt of
court, and we intend to press that case over the next few weeks."

Listed in the index released last
week are a November 8, 2005 cable from a CIA field office to CIA
headquarters requesting permission to destroy the 92 tapes and a
November 9, 2005 cable confirming their destruction. The precise date
of destruction confirms that the tapes were destroyed immediately after
the Washington Post reported the existence of the CIA black sites and
the New York Times reported that the CIA Inspector General had
questioned the legality of the agency's torture program.

The index also lists the earliest
known record of White House participation in discussions about
destroying the tapes – an e-mail dated February 22, 2003 revealing that
CIA officials met with Bush administration officials to discuss how the
agency should respond to a letter from Representative Jane Harman
(D-CA) advising the agency not to destroy the tapes. While it was known
previously that the White House participated in discussions about the
disposition of the tapes, this is the earliest record to date of any
such discussions.

"The information released about the
CIA's February 2003 consultation with the White House about the
destruction of the videotapes sheds even more light on the extent of
the Bush administration's micromanagement of the CIA's torture
program," said Alex Abdo, a legal fellow with the ACLU National
Security Project. "Releasing these and other documents in full is
essential to fully understanding the responsibility of high-level
officials for torture."
 
The government has previously said
that it has roughly 3,000 summaries, transcripts, reconstructions and
memoranda relating to the videotapes, but it continues to withhold the
documents in their entirety.

The ACLU is seeking disclosure of
these records as part of its pending motion to hold the CIA in contempt
for destroying the tapes, which violated a court order requiring it to
produce or identify records responsive to the ACLU's FOIA request for
records relating to the treatment of prisoners held in U.S. custody
overseas.

Attorneys on the case are Jaffer,
Abdo and Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and
Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S.
Lustberg and Jenny-Brooke Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm
Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for
Constitutional Rights.

The index obtained by the ACLU last week is available online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/vaughn-index-documents-relating-reasons-or-people-behind-cia-s-destruction-92-vide

A selected chronology of what is now known about the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes is available online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/selected-chronology-cias-destruction-92-videotapes

More information about the ACLU's torture FOIA is available online at: www.aclu.org/accountability

 

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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