Bush administration urges judge not to inquire about destruction of CIA tapes
The Bush administration has told a federal judge it was not obligated to preserve videotapes of CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists and urged the court not to look into the tapes’ destruction.
In court documents filed Friday night, government lawyers told U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy that demanding information about the tapes would interfere with current investigations by Congress and the Justice Department.
It is the first time the government has addressed the issue of the videotapes in court.
Kennedy ordered the Bush administration in June 2005 to safeguard “all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.”
Five months later, the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos.
Government lawyers told Kennedy the tapes were not covered by his court order because Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri – the suspected terrorists whose interrogations were videotaped and then destroyed – were not at the Guantanamo military prison in Cuba.
The men were being held overseas in a network of secret CIA prisons. By the time President Bush acknowledged the existence of those prisons and the prisoners were transferred to Guantanamo, the tapes had been destroyed.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Friday refused to give Congress details of the government’s investigation into the matter, saying that doing so could raise questions about whether the inquiry was vulnerable to political pressure.
The Associated Press