Group Calls For Completion of Investigation Into Interrogation Videotape Destruction
Washington, DC Human Rights First today stated that the release of documents showing that senior CIA officials approved of the destruction of 92 videotapes of abusive interrogations of terrorism suspects underscores the need for the administration to complete its investigation of the matter and hold accountable any officials found to have obstructed justice. The tapes, released yesterday, were destroyed in November 2005, shortly after the existence of CIA "black sites" was revealed in the press.
"The abuse and torture of prisoners in U.S. custody was a disgraceful chapter in this country's history," said Human Rights First's Dixon Osburn. "Only by revealing all of the facts surrounding these episodes can we move beyond them and take the steps necessary to ensure that this history does not repeat itself."
E-mail messages produced yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that then-CIA Director Porter Goss agreed with the decision to the destroy the tapes after it was made. Jose Rodriguez, Jr., head of the directorate of operations of the CIA from 2004 to 2007, authorized the tapes' destruction.
In January 2008, then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the destruction of the tapes. Attorney General Eric Holder in August 2009 expanded the investigation to include an inquiry into the actions of CIA interrogators and contractors involved in abusive interrogations.
"These latest documents suggest that senior CIA officials were responsible both for making the decision to destroy the tapes and afterwards, for covering it up," said Osburn. "While we applaud the administration for continuing to investigate this matter and expanding the investigation's scope, we urge the Attorney General to invest all of the resources necessary to bring the investigation to a conclusion and to hold any culpable individuals accountable."