by Joseph Cannon, Monday, December 10, 2007*
When the CIA tells you that a piece of evidence has been destroyed, you should react as skeptically as you would to the death of a Marvel supervillain.
As you know, CIA Deputy Director of Operations Jose Rodriguez reportedly made the decision to destroy tapes of prisoner interrogation, allegedly to protect the identities of the interrogators. This action, we are told, ran contrary to the wishes of Porter Goss, who then ran the Agency.
Joseph Cannon in his blog of Dec. 10 recalls how past CIA claims of lost evidence later turned out to be untrue: “When the CIA tells you that a piece of evidence has been destroyed, you should react as skeptically as you would to the death of a Marvel supervillain.”
One certainty is that the CIA lied, either when it told the 9/11 Commission that tapes of certain interrogations were never made, or else in its current claim that such tapes did exist but have been destroyed. This serves to underline the absurdity of accepting any CIA statements, any at all, especially about 9/11. By extension, the 9/11 Commission is yet again tainted for using the CIA’s prisoner “transcripts” uncritically as a main source in its report; whether out of cynicism or unforgivable naivete is irrelevant.
It’s near impossible to tell on how many levels the CIA can be (and probably is) lying about the torture tapes. They may be lying about having certain prisoners in the first place, about who they really are and what, if anything, they really did. What did these prisoners tell interrogators and was it true? When conscience or the law finally bites, can the torturer at least claim the information was good?
Were real interrogations recorded or were fake ones played for the camera? Were tapes destroyed or merely “disappeared,” and either way, when and why? Cannon wonders whether the motive is to conceal the involvement of foreign agencies, like those of Israel or Saudi Arabia, in interrogations of U.S.-held prisoners. We wonder if some of the tapes will make the constructed nature of the official 9/11 fable a little too obvious. In the age of the Secret State we’re all forced to play psychic: What do they want to hide?
Some of our readers may object to citing Cannon because he’s against demolition theory, but that is not at issue here. Read his comments, after the jump… (nl)
According to Jon Ponder on BradBlog, a federal prosecutor reports the continued existence of either the same tapes or similar ones.
Charles Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote that his office viewed two videotapes of CIA interrogations of al-Qaida suspects as recently as September 19 and October 18 of this year — contrary to Hayden’s statement that the tapes were destroyed in 2005.
Larisa makes much the same point. This PDF gives you the actual letter from USA Rosenberg.
Larry Johnson compares the alleged destruction of these torture tapes to the “family jewels” — a catch-all term for high-level CIA misdeeds uncovered in the 1970s. The most notorious of these “jewels” was the Agency’s MKULTRA program. Richard Helms told both Congress and the CIA Inspector General that he ordered the destruction of all the voluminous documentation created by this massively-funded, cutting-edge research project. That statement was a lie. Those documents still exist.
So do the “nonexistent” interrogation tapes. Bank on it.
Added note: Here’s an interesting response from “canuckjournalist,” one of Larisa’s readers:
I did research for Gerald Posner a couple of years ago; my best guess is that if he didn’t see those tapes, he had viva voce evidence from an eyewitness who did.
As an old intelligence reporter [CBC and Globe and Mail, Toronto], my best theory here is that it’s the Saudis who’re being protected here. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility—it’s even likely—that Saudi intelligence officers were in on the Zubaydeh torture sessions.
Those faces or accents would give the game away and reveal the depth of Bush administration complicity with the Saudis, eg, the Jedda ‘visa express’/9-11 attack team misidentification; the ‘escape flights’ to Riyadh after 9/11; the serial murder/suicides of the Saudi princes…and that doesn’t begin to address Pakistani/ISI complicity.
Even before Posner wrote his egregious Case Closed, some folks thought that he was spookier than the Winchester mansion. His testimony to Congress on the Josef Mengele mystery was very strange, especially when compared to the reportage in his subsequent book. But that — as I say too often — is a tale for another time.
The idea of Saudi participation in the torture sessions is very intriguing. Let me mention another possibility: Israeli participation. We’ve heard odd reports of Israeli “experts” showing up at Abu Ghraib. Is it really so unthinkable to suspect that they helped in the interrogation of Zubaydah?
Don’t expect Gerry to talk about that idea any time soon.
Ron Suskind has argued that Zubaydah was a minor player, a logistical “go to” guy, not a high-level planner. According to Suskind, Zubaydah is also loonier than Daffy Duck. Bush painted a very different picture, of course.
Perhaps the tapes would prove that the Suskind version is closer to the truth.
* Fair-use archive; original at http://cannonfire.blogspot.com/2007/12/torture-tapes.html © Copyright 2007 Joseph Gannon
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