Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty-Guest Blogger
Since we have been all so absorbed by the ongoing political saga involving the imaginary debt ceiling crisis, I thought it would be therapeutic to discuss something totally unrelated to that nonsense. As you will recall, the CIA destroyed hundreds of hours of video tape documentation of the infamous CIA Torture Program during the last Administration. “Despite a court order, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) destroyed hundreds of hours of video tape showing the alleged torture of two terror detainees, and now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is asking a New York judge to punish them for it. In a case being heard Monday, attorneys for the ACLU will argue that the agency, and former deputy director Jose Rodriguez in particular, should be held in contempt of an order to preserve records responsive to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in 2004.
“The record indicates that far from an innocent mistake, Rodriguez ordered the tapes destroyed to cover up evidence that ‘would make us look terrible’ and be ‘devastating’ to the CIA,” the ACLU’s filing (PDF) argues, quoting Rodriguez emails obtained through FOIA requests. “Indeed, Rodriguez weighed the ‘heat’ that would come from destroying the documents and concluded that it ‘is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever go into public domain.’”
As many as 92 tapes of terror war captives being tortured by CIA operatives were allegedly destroyed. Officials suggested these recordings depicted torture sessions with terrorism suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri. Along with the tapes, detailed records of the CIA’s so-called “torture flights,” showing the planes, destinations and even the passengers, were also said destroyed.” Raw Story
Now, I may be a little slow, but I hardly think that the CIA “accidentally” destroyed a treasure trove of incriminating evidence after being ordered to protect all evidence by a Federal Judge. Here is a link to the full ACLU contempt filing: ACLU As the quoted CIA emails state, the former Deputy Director was obviously worried about what would happen if the American public ever saw the damaging evidence that the judge had ordered to be preserved. It sounds logical that Mr. Rodriguez and the CIA made a “Ford Pinto” type of decision that they would rather deal with the courts than the American public.
What does this situation tell us about the state of our Democracy, when an agency of the Federal Government appears to have intentionally disobeyed a court order, just to save their own skin? What does it tell us about our Democracy when the Justice Department refuses to hold anyone responsible for torture that has been illegal for decades?
It has been almost seven (7) years since this FOIA request and almost four (4) years since the CIA admitted to destroying the protected records. Should the former Deputy Director be held responsible and should higher-ups be included to deter law breaking in the future? If the court doesn’t order the CIA and its officials to pay damages, will any agency ever fear a court decision or order again? I know what you may be thinking. A lot of questions, but no answers. Let’s hear your answers!
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty-Guest Blogger