Both Jose Rodriguez And The CIA Should Be Held In Contempt For Destruction Of Torture Tapes, ACLU Says
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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a renewed motion to hold the CIA in contempt of court for destroying videotapes depicting the torture of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri. Based on new revelations since the ACLU filed its original contempt motion in December 2007, the ACLU is now asking the court to impose a contempt judgment not only on the CIA itself but also on Jose Rodriguez, who was the head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center when some of the interrogations took place and the head of the CIA’s Clandestine Service when the tapes were destroyed.
“The CIA violated a court order, destroyed evidence of criminal activity and deprived the court of the opportunity to decide whether the tapes ought to be released to the public,” said Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU. “These actions should not go unaddressed by the judiciary. It is crucial to our democracy that the intelligence agencies be required to operate within the law.”
The ACLU’s motion charges that the CIA flouted a court order when it destroyed at least 92 videotapes documenting the harsh interrogation of the two detainees. In response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by the ACLU and other organizations in October 2003 and May 2004, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ordered the CIA to produce or identify all records pertaining to the treatment of detainees in its custody. Despite the court’s ruling, the CIA never produced the tapes or even acknowledged their existence. Former CIA Director Michael Hayden later publicly acknowledged that the CIA had made the tapes in 2002 but destroyed them in 2005.
“Worse still than the CIA’s destruction of the tapes in violation of a court order, is the unlawful conduct depicted on those tapes,” said Alexander Abdo, attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “Only by holding officials accountable for torture in the past can we stop it from happening again in the future.”
The ACLU’s original contempt motion was on hold pending the conclusion of an investigation by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham into the destruction of the videotapes. Durham recently announced that he will not charge anyone criminally for the destruction of the tapes.
The lawsuit was filed in 2004 by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Peace and Veterans for Common Sense.
Attorneys on the case are Jaffer, Abdo and Judy Rabinovitz of the national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Alicia Bannon of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
The ACLU’s renewed contempt motion is online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-v-department-defense-supplemental-me...
More information about the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit is available online at: www.aclu.org/accountability/released.html