New Details About Destroyed Torture Tapes

Last Friday, we got a list, called a Vaughn index, of records related to the CIA's destruction of videotapes that showed the torture and abusive interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody overseas. Among the most interesting revelations in the index are the precise date the tapes were destroyed, and evidence that the Bush White House was involved in early discussions about the tapes' destruction.

Listed in the index released late last week are a November 8, 2005, cable from a CIA field office to CIA headquarters requesting permission to destroy the 92 tapes, and a November 9, 2005, cable confirming their destruction. The precise date of destruction confirms that the tapes were destroyed immediately after the Washington Post reported the existence of the CIA black sites and the New York Times reported that the CIA Inspector General had questioned the legality of the agency’s torture program.

The index also lists the earliest known record of White House participation in discussions about destroying the tapes — an email dated February 22, 2003, revealing that CIA officials met with Bush administration officials to discuss how the agency should respond to a letter from Representative Jane Harman (D-Calif.) advising the agency not to destroy the tapes (PDF). While it was known previously that the White House participated in discussions about the disposition of the tapes, this is the earliest record to date of any such discussions.

To learn more, check out our new selected chronology of what is now known about the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes.

View comments (4)
Read the Terms of Use


Wow anonymous! Way to add to the discourse. I guess that it is okay with you that our government acted illegally, tortured who knows how many and got away with it. Breaking the law is breaking the law. You may not believe that what Bush did was torture, but the law did. Both national and international law. And the fact that his administration tried to cover it up is proof of that. Anyone and everyone involved should be prosecuted and put in jail. That includes George and Dick.


Good for the Bush administration!? How many innocent people were tortured inside #1 and 2 WTC while those buildings were burning and they were trapped inside? How many families were/are tortured by the loss of their loves ones on September 11th? We should have treated them the same way the muslim "people of peace" treated Daniel Pearl!


anon #4. You are angry and frustrated. That is not enough justification to abandon our values and do the same to others - some guilty or crimes and others innocent.


Anon #4: your bloodlust and hysterical references to previous violence do not constitute an argument for future cruelty. Please take a deep breath and try again.

Stay Informed