Monday, December 10, 2007

Torture tapes

When the CIA tells you that a piece of evidence has been destroyed, you should react as skeptically as you would to the death of a Marvel supervillain.

As you know, CIA Deputy Director of Operations Jose Rodriguez reportedly made the decision to destroy tapes of prisoner interrogation, allegedly to protect the identities of the interrogators. This action, we are told, ran contrary to the wishes of Porter Goss, who then ran the Agency.

According to Jon Ponder on BradBlog, a federal prosecutor reports the continued existence of either the same tapes or similar ones.

Charles Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote that his office viewed two videotapes of CIA interrogations of al-Qaida suspects as recently as September 19 and October 18 of this year --- contrary to Hayden's statement that the tapes were destroyed in 2005.
Larisa makes much the same point. This PDF gives you the actual letter from USA Rosenberg.

Larry Johnson compares the alleged destruction of these torture tapes to the "family jewels" -- a catch-all term for high-level CIA misdeeds uncovered in the 1970s. The most notorious of these "jewels" was the Agency's MKULTRA program. Richard Helms told both Congress and the CIA Inspector General that he ordered the destruction of all the voluminous documentation created by this massively-funded, cutting-edge research project. That statement was a lie. Those documents still exist.

So do the "nonexistent" interrogation tapes. Bank on it.

Added note: Here's an interesting response from "canuckjournalist," one of Larisa's readers:
I did research for Gerald Posner a couple of years ago; my best guess is that if he didn't see those tapes, he had viva voce evidence from an eyewitness who did.

As an old intelligence reporter [CBC and Globe and Mail, Toronto], my best theory here is that it's the Saudis who're being protected here. It's not beyond the realm of possibility---it's even likely---that Saudi intelligence officers were in on the Zubaydeh torture sessions.

Those faces or accents would give the game away and reveal the depth of Bush administration complicity with the Saudis, eg, the Jedda 'visa express'/9-11 attack team misidentification; the 'escape flights' to Riyadh after 9/11; the serial murder/suicides of the Saudi princes...and that doesn't begin to address Pakistani/ISI complicity.
Even before Posner wrote his egregious Case Closed, some folks thought that he was spookier than the Winchester mansion. His testimony to Congress on the Josef Mengele mystery was very strange, especially when compared to the reportage in his subsequent book. But that -- as I say too often -- is a tale for another time.

The idea of Saudi participation in the torture sessions is very intriguing. Let me mention another possibility: Israeli participation. We've heard odd reports of Israeli "experts" showing up at Abu Ghraib. Is it really so unthinkable to suspect that they helped in the interrogation of Zubaydah?

Don't expect Gerry to talk about that idea any time soon.

Ron Suskind has argued that Zubaydah was a minor player, a logistical "go to" guy, not a high-level planner. According to Suskind, Zubaydah is also loonier than Daffy Duck. Bush painted a very different picture, of course.

Perhaps the tapes would prove that the Suskind version is closer to the truth.

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