CIA Says It Has 3,000 Documents Related To Destroyed Interrogation Tapes
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NEW YORK – In connection with an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking information on detainee abuse, the CIA today disclosed that it has a list of roughly 3,000 summaries, transcripts, reconstructions and memoranda relating to 92 interrogation videotapes that were destroyed by the agency. The CIA refused, however, to disclose the list to the public. The agency also refused to publicly disclose a list of witnesses who may have viewed the videotapes or retained custody of the videotapes before their destruction.
“The government is still needlessly withholding information about these tapes from the public, despite the fact that the CIA’s use of torture is well known,” said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. “Full disclosure of the CIA’s illegal interrogation methods is long overdue and the agency must be held accountable for flouting the rule of law.”
In December 2007, the ACLU filed a motion to hold the CIA in contempt for its destruction of the tapes in violation of a court order requiring the agency to produce or identify all records requested by the ACLU. That motion is still pending.
The agency’s latest submission came in response to an August 20, 2008 court order issued in the context of the contempt motion. That order required the agency to produce “a list of any summaries, transcripts, or memoranda regarding the [destroyed tapes] and of any reconstruction of the records’ contents” as well as a list of witnesses who may have viewed the videotapes or retained custody of the videotapes before their destruction. The CIA will provide these lists to the court for in camera review on March 26, 2009.
Earlier this month, the CIA acknowledged it destroyed 92 tapes of interrogations. The tapes, some of which show CIA operatives subjecting suspects to extremely harsh interrogation methods, should have been identified and processed for the ACLU in response to its Freedom of Information Act request demanding information on the treatment and interrogation of detainees in U.S. custody. The tapes were also withheld from the 9/11 Commission, appointed by former President Bush and Congress, which had formally requested that the CIA hand over transcripts and recordings documenting the interrogation of CIA prisoners.
The government’s letter to U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York is available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/39093res20090320.html
The ACLU’s contempt motion and related legal documents are available online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia
Attorneys on the case are Singh, Jameel Jaffer and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jenny Brooke Condon of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
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