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Document a Day: Layers of Concealment

Larry Siems,
The Torture Report
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June 29, 2010

Although we will never see the 92 interrogation videotapes that the CIA destroyed in 2005, last year a federal judge ordered the CIA to fill the gap left by the destruction by releasing any records describing the contents of the tapes. Unsurprisingly, the CIA has refused to release almost all of those records, the bulk of which are the cables that flew back and forth between the CIA headquarters and the “black site” in Thailand where CIA interrogators were torturing Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

When government agencies seek to withhold information a court has ordered released under the Freedom of Information Act, they are required to provide documents listing and briefly summarizing the records in question. Today’s documents include a page from the CIA’s index of hundreds of cables that it is withholding and just one of the accompanying teaser descriptions.

They are tantalizing even in this minimal form. One describes a top-secret memo “which summarizes details of waterboard exposures from the destroyed videotapes.” Another describes a 59-page “Logbook of Abu Zubaydah Interrogation.”

The sheer volume of the cables that the CIA refuses to release — nearly 600 cables from the black site to CIA headquarters alone over an eight-month period in 2002—is evidence of how closely senior officials in Washington micromanaged the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and others in secret CIA prisons thousands of miles away.


To read more about and see documentary evidence of the Bush administration’s torture program, go to

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