Last Friday, a federal judge rejected the CIA’s attempt to withhold records related to 92 videotapes that the agency destroyed. The tapes, which depict the harsh interrogation of CIA prisoners, are subject of a motion to hold the CIA in contempt in an ongoing ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
Previously, the CIA said it would produce records relating to the contents of the videotapes for August 2002 only. Last week’s order from the judge, however, requires the CIA to produce records from April through December 2002 that relate to the content of the tapes, as well as documents from April 2002 through June 2003 that relate to the destruction of the tapes, and information about the persons and reasons behind their destruction.
The judge also ordered the government to reconsider the extent of redactions it intends to make to the documents, in light of four relatively un-redacted secret torture memos that the Justice Department released on April 16 as part of the ACLU’s FOIA litigation. The court also ordered the government to explain whether contempt proceedings would interfere with a federal criminal investigation into the destruction of the tapes led by prosecutor John Durham.
Recent disclosures about the CIA’s torture program confirm that the agency has no basis to continue withholding records. The public has a right to know what was on those destroyed videotapes, who authorized their destruction, and why. The CIA must be held accountable for its flagrant disregard for the rule of law.
You can check out our response letter to the judge here (PDF).
You can and support the ACLU’s call for accountability for torture and learn more about our motion to hold the CIA in contempt for destroying the tapes online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia.