Thursday, December 13, 2007

Who authorized the CIA to destroy interrogation videos?

By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

Newsweek Web Exclusive, Dec 11, 2007

The CIA repeatedly asked White House lawyer Harriet Miers over a two-year period for instructions regarding what to do with "very clinical" videotapes depicting the use of "enhanced" interrogation techniques on two top Al Qaeda captives, according to former and current intelligence officials familiar with the communications (who requested anonymity when discussing the controversial issue). The tapes are believed to have included evidence of waterboarding and other interrogation methods that Bush administration critics have described as torture.

Senior officials of the CIA's National Clandestine Service finally decided on their own authority in late 2005 to destroy the tapes—which were kept at a secret location overseas—after failing to elicit clear instructions from the White House or other senior officials on what to do with them, according to one of the former intelligence officials with direct knowledge of the events in question. An extensive paper—or e-mail—trail exists documenting the contacts between Clandestine Service officials and top agency managers and between the CIA and the White House regarding what to do about the tapes, according to two former intelligence officials.

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