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CIA Cable 'Granting Permission' to Destroy Torture Videotapes Surfaces

by Jeff Kaye

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 those tapes.

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 its approval. (Photo by webponce) 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 its approval.

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 document.

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 torturers accountable.

Related posts:

  1. The CIA Asked to Destroy Torture Tapes on Same Day They Claimed They Didn't Torture
  2. CIA OIG's Wild Parsing about What Was "Depicted" on the Torture Tapes
  3. CIA: A Different Kind of Derivative Trading
  4. CIA Met with White House about How to Respond to Jane Harman's Torture Warnings
  5. Found: The OGC Review. Still Missing: Legal Plausibility.

 

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