Friday, December 07, 2007

A Free and Independent Press and Destroyed Videotapes

The CIA destroyed videotapes it made in 2002 of two top terror suspects because it was afraid that keeping them "posed a security risk," Director Michael Hayden has told agency employees.

Rep. Jane Harman of California, then the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was one of only four members of Congress in 2003 informed of the tapes' existence and the CIA's intention to ultimately destroy them.

"I told the CIA that destroying videotapes of interrogations was a bad idea and urged them in writing not to do it," Harman said.

In May 2005, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ordered the government to disclose whether interrogations were recorded. The government objected to that order, and the judge modified it on Nov. 3, 2005, to ask for confirmation of whether the government "has video or audio tapes of these interrogations" and then named specific ones. Eleven days later, the government denied it had video or audio tapes of those specific interrogations

Glenn Greenwald writes a lengthy column relating that "Missing" evidence is familiar Bush pattern.

Scott Horton writes in Harper's online that the Bush Administration has had a consistent practice of
destroying evidence
which would document serious crimes perpetrated with the connivance or consent of senior officials, particularly including acts of torture and abuse performed on detainees in connection with what President Bush calls the “Program.”

Others think Hayden destroyed the tapes because Rizzo said it was ok to do so. Remember Rizzo?

Gerald Posner suggests another possible explanation:
Re the breaking news that the CIA destroyed the videotapes of interrogations with 2 terror suspects, you might have seen that the tapes of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah were destroyed.

You might also recall that in my 2003 NYT bestseller (reached #2), Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11, my last chapter was titled, "The Interrogation." Based on two active US intelligence sources, I was the first to disclose Zubaydah's interrogation. To date, I am the only reporter to have printed the info about what happened to him.

Zubaydah, wounded when he was captured in Pakistan, was fooled in a fake flag operation to believe that the Saudis held him. Instead of being afraid of the ‘Saudis,’ he demanded to talk to three Saudi princes (one, the nephew of the King, who happened to be in the U.S. on 9/11). He gave his interrogators the private cell phone numbers of all 3. He did the same regarding the chief of Pakistan's air force.

After the U.S. told the Saudis and Pakistanis of Zubaydah's finger pointing, all four men had tragic 'accidents.' The King's nephew died of complications from liposuction at the age of 43. A day later, the 41 year old Prince named by Zubaydah died in a one-car accident on his way to the funeral of the King’s nephew. The third named prince, age 25, died a week later of "thirst," according to the Saudi Royal Court. And shortly after that, the chief of Pakistan’s air force died when his plane exploded with his wife and 15 of his top aides on board

When my book was published, CIA officials trashed it 'off the record,' but made no public comment. I have always held the same position. There is (or was) firm evidence of what transpired, of whether my reporting was accurate or not. Make the interrogation tapes public and then we'll know whether one of the top al Qaeda operatives accused leading Saudi royals and a top Pakistani military man - now all dead - of being his sponsors. And accused two of them – the King’s nephew and the Pakistani air force chief – of having advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Now, suddenly coincidence of coincidence, the CIA says the Zubaydah interrogation tapes are destroyed. How convenient.

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