Government Officials Off The Hook In Destruction Of Torture Tapes

November 9, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – Reports today indicate that prosecutor John Durham has concluded that no government officials will face criminal charges directly related to the 2005 destruction of videotapes depicting the torture and abuse of detainees in CIA custody. Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed Durham to investigate the destruction of the videotapes. 

Documents made public through an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit showed that the videotapes were destroyed five years ago today. The statute of limitations for charging the tapes' November 2005 destruction as a crime expires this week, making future criminal prosecution for this specific offense impossible. Durham is also investigating other allegations of crimes of torture and abuse, as well as related crimes.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

"This decision is stunning – there is ample evidence of a cover up regarding the destruction of the tapes. The Bush administration was instructed by a court of law not to destroy evidence of torture, but that's exactly what it did. The destruction of these tapes showed complete disdain for the rule of law.

"But the issue is not just the destruction of the tapes but the acts of torture that they depicted, which evidence – including recent statements by former President Bush – shows were authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration. Waterboarding is torture and torture is a crime. Prosecutor Durham was charged with a criminal investigation into torture, and that investigation must include the people at the top, not just low-ranking officials. We cannot say that we live under the rule of law unless we are clear that no one is above the law."

Statistics image