The New York Times reported today that in 2005, the CIA destroyed at least two videotapes showing its operatives subjecting terror suspects to harsh interrogation practices in 2002. Officials said the CIA destroyed these tapes to protect agency operatives from legal consequences. The destruction of these tapes appears to be part of an extensive, long-term pattern of misusing executive authority to insulate individuals from criminal prosecution for torture and abuse, the American Civil Liberties Union said.The ACLU is in the midst of a legal challenge calling for the release of three documents issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that are believed to have authorized the CIA to use extremely harsh interrogation methods. The memos, which were written in May of 2005, were not included in the government’s response to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all documents pertaining to the treatment and interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody. The government also withheld the documents from key senators during a congressional inquiry.
The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project:
“The destruction of these tapes suggests an utter disregard for the rule of law. It was plainly a deliberate attempt to destroy evidence that could have been used to hold CIA agents accountable for the torture of prisoners. Both Congress and the courts have repeatedly demanded that this evidence be turned over, but apparently the CIA believes that its agents are above the law.”