CIA Ordered To Hand Over Information About Destroyed Torture Tapes

John Byrne

THE RAW STORY

torture_719b2The Central Intelligence Agency must turn over records regarding detainee interrogation tapes the agency destroyed in an alleged effort to protect the identity of its officers.

A federal judge rejected the CIA’s attempt to withhold records relating to the agency’s destruction of 92 videotapes that depicted interrogation of CIA prisoners in a ruling Friday afternoon. The tapes were said to have shown some detainees’ torture.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing for the documents’ release under the Freedom of Information Act, and aims to have the agency held in contempt of court for refusing to provide them.

The ACLU has been remarkably successful at obtaining previously secret government documents. President Barack Obama was recently forced to release Bush administration memos which outlined torture techniques to be employed on detainees.

ACLU staff attorney Amrit Singh lauded the court’s decision.

“We welcome the court’s recognition that the ACLU’s contempt motion against the CIA must be promptly resolved,” Singh said in a release. “Recent disclosures about the CIA’s torture methods further confirm that there is no basis for the agency to continue to withhold records relating to the content of the destroyed videotapes or documents that shed light upon who authorized their destruction and why.

“The public has a right to this information and the CIA must be held accountable for its flagrant disregard for the rule of law,” Singh added.

In a release, the civil liberties group noted “the CIA had previously said it would only turn over documents from August 2002 that relate to the content of the videotapes. But U.S. District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York today ordered 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 related to the destruction of the tapes and information about the persons and reasons behind their destruction.”

“Judge Hellerstein also ordered the government to reconsider the extent of redactions it intends to make to the documents in light of last week’s release, also as part of the ACLU’s FOIA litigation, of four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture,” the release adds. “In addition, the court 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.”

George Tenet Book Tour : “Oops, We Invaded a Country For No Reason” Edition

From Secret Deals With Big Oil in The White House to Permanent Bases in Iraq

Think Progress

Engel: Permanent Bases Would Technically Be Iraqi With U.S.
‘Tenants’ As ‘A Face Saving Device

On Thursday, the UK Independent’s Patrick Cockburn reported on “a secret deal being
negotiated in Baghdad” that “would perpetuate the American
military occupation of Iraq indefinitely.” According to Cockburn,
the deal result in American soldiers being stationed on permanent bases in Iraq:

Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US
troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations,
arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise
Iraq’s position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending
conflict in their country.

On the same day, NPR’s Diane Rehm asked
NBC News Middle East correspondent Richard Engel about the report.
Engel said that as part of “a face saving device,” the
bases would technically be Iraqi and “U.S. troops would reside on
them as tenants”:

ENGEL: That’s the question, is it permanent bases or is it not, and the details of this have not been published. The
U.S. and Iraqi officials I’ve spoken to say they would not be
U.S. permanent bases in Iraq, they would be Iraqi bases and that U.S.
troops would reside on them as tenants and may even have to pay some
sort of nominal rent, so there would be a face saving device.

What’s also trying to be worked out is what’s the exact
U.S. mission. Would they be able to conduct independent operations
without the advice and consultation of the Iraqi government and that
has been a point of contention.

After Cockburn’s report was released, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq,
Ryan Crocker, tried to quash talk of permanent U.S. bases, telling
reporters that “it is not going to be forever.”
But Crocker also spoke of a situation that could comport with
Engel’s “face saving” description, claiming that
“there isn’t going to be an agreement that infringes on
Iraqi sovereignty.”

Transcript:

REHM: Here’s an email from James asking about an
article published today in the Independent in UK by Patrick Coburn and
it’s entitled, Revealed: Secret Plan To Keep Iraq Under U.S.
Control. Do you know about this?

ENGEL: I don’t know the article, but I know Patrick Cockburn,
he’s a friend and a fine reporter. Is this, I’ll take a
look at the article.

REHM: Just published today and our communicator in Raleigh says, “why has this not received more attention?”

ENGEL: I know what he’s talking about. This is the strategic
long term agreement that is being negotiated between Iraq and the
United States. This is a deal that is supposed to be, and we have
reported it, I think NBC News was the first to report this, it was, it
is a long term strategic alliance that is being hammered out, mostly in
secret in Baghdad. And that has many, many Iraqis concerned, it has
some U.S. officials concerned as well. The U.S. negotiators that
I’ve spoken to who are involved in this insist that it is not a
treaty, that it will not commit large numbers of U.S. forces to Iraq
for a long time, but it does clarify what the role of U.S. forces will
be for a long period going forward.

REHM: I.E.

ENGEL: That’s the question, is it permanent bases or is it
not, and the details of this have not been published. The U.S. and
Iraqi officials I’ve spoken to say they would not be U.S.
permanent bases in Iraq, they would be Iraqi bases and that U.S. troops
would reside on them as tenets and may even have to pay some sort of
nominal rent, so there would be a face saving device. What’s also
trying to be worked out is what’s the exact U.S. mission. Would
they be able to conduct independent operations without the advice and
consultation of the Iraqi government and that has been a point of
contention.

DOZIER: I know a member of Crocker’s team has been working on
this for about a year behind the scenes. And one of the major sticking
points is what law will apply to U.S. troops, how much will they be
able to do on their own, how much will they have to…they want of
course the rights that they have right now, to stage their own
missions, their own raids, without getting anybody’s say so, just
informing, “We’re headed off, we’re going to do
this.” The Iraqis are pushing for approval of everything and also
that Iraqi law would apply to soldiers, Marines who conduct violent
acts.

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