Released cable reveals CIA decision to destroy torture tapes



The US Justice Department’s investigation into the destruction of videotapes by the CIA, which reportedly showed acts of torture committed during interrogations of terrorism detainees, began in 2007, but has stalled. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is spearheading what appears to be the only organized attempt to discover when and why those tapes were destroyed. Last year the ACLU uncovered that the CIA destroyed the videotapes in question after –not before, as the Agency had originally claimed– a spring 2004 report by the Agency’s inspector general, which described the interrogation methods employed on CIA prisoners as “constitut[ing] cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment”. Thanks to the ACLU, we have also known for quite some time that the decision to destroy the incriminating tapes was taken sometime in November of 2005. But now, with the release of a new batch of documents in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, we have the exact date that decision was taken: it was on November 8, 2005, when a two-page cable was apparently communicated from “HQ” to the “Field”, summarizing a proposal to purge the videotapes, and granting official permission to destroy them. As Jeffrey Kaye notes, this is “our first verification of the exact date CIA headquarters gave its approval”. Meanwhile, the ACLU continues to do the work of the US Department of Justice, which appears to be looking the other way.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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