CIA destroys tapes of harsh questioning
jca at stanford.edu
Sat Dec 8 11:54:16 PST 2007
The tapes were called for, and there was a duty to turn them over,
both in discovery by detainee defense lawyers and in requests by
congressional committees. They were destroyed after the formal
requests were made and with knowledge of the destruction at high
levels. Prosecutors are under a duty to inquire of intelligence
operations in responding to such requests. This is called at the
least spoliation of the evidence. There is evidence that the reason
for destroying the tapes is that the conduct would "look worse" if it
could be seen happening as opposed to being described in records of
interrogation or testimony. (Especially testimony by
detainees.) Thus, the government was indeed directed not to destroy
The CIA is an agency of the US government and its employees are
agents and officials of the US government. I thought we determined
back in the Vietnam period that the CIA is not above the law. The
CIA is not licensed to overthrow governments, and neither is the US
government. That is a violation of our treaty obligations and
international law unless approved by, e.g., the UN. Both the CIA and
the US government do sometimes violate the law, and for that those
responsible should be held accountable, as for non-government
employees who violate the law.
If concern for the identity of CIA employees were a legitimate reason
for destroying evidence, then every document created by the CIA could
be destroyed at the agency's whim. (Does the name Valerie Plame ring a bell?)
Alas, if actions to end the war since the Democrats became a majority
are any indication, torturers have little to fear from Democratic
control of the political branches.
At 10:44 AM 12/8/2007, Robert Sheridan wrote:
>Does anyone else find themselves underwhelmed at this revelation?
>Was there any duty to make the tapes in the first place and preserve them?
>How much law is the CIA, meaning its officers and agents, supposed to follow?
>Isn't this our James Bond agency, licensed to kill, to overthrow
>governments, to foment revolutions, and otherwise do our dirty work
>to keep the system going?
>If we don't want them to do this, can't we so direct them?
>Apparently we want them to overthrow the Mossadeghs of the world, by
>fair means or foul.
>We just don't want the blood on our hands.
>The CIA's (lame) excuse is that if the tapes leaked, the
>harsh-interrogators would be subject to reprisal, which they
>certainly would. I understand that some of the people we're
>fighting in Iraq are fairly sophisticated in using Internet
>technology not only to spread their terror but to read our
>traffic. Our people are very careful about concealing their
>identities to avoid reprisal.
>Regardless of how lame the excuse appears to be, there may thus be a
>kernel of legitimate concern, although I suspect that the real
>reason for the destruction was to avoid criminal prosecution in a
>game where the rules are in flux. What may have seemed wonderful
>yesterday may be a crime today, depending on the result of the last
>election. When the Dems suddenly achieve Congressional subpoena
>power, case officers under a GOP administration have good reason to quiver.
>The CIA destroy evidence? They're in the business of creating
>it. Why should we be surprised when they destroy it?
>I see that there's a call for new A-G Michael Mukasey to launch an
>investigation into this, i.e., of us.
>Have we ever prosecuted one of our spies for:
>-obstructing justice by creating false evidence?
>-obstructing justice by destroying tapes that didn't have to be made
>in the first place?
>This doesn't seem like a slam-dunk to me.
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