Bush Administration Refuses to Turn Over Information to Court on Tape Destruction; Judge Told Not to “Interfere”

The Bush Administration waited to late Friday night to tell a federal judge that it would not release information on its own possible obstruction of justice in his court.    

U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy has demanded information about the tapes for obvious reasons. Like other courts, he was given false information by the Bush Administration on the existence of such evidence. Indeed, in June 2005, Kennedy ordered the Administration to safeguard “all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.” Five months later, the CIA destroyed the interrogation videos. 

The Bush Administration is trying alternative rationales for refusing to turn over evidence of its own obstruction. First, it is arguing that since Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri – were technically not at the Guantanamo military prison in Cuba at the time — they fell outside of the order. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey S. Bucholtz further told the court that any inquiry on its part would be unwelcomed “interference” with its own investigation into its own misconduct. That’s right. Here is how the argument goes: First, the Bush Administration tell Congress and courts that no such evidence exists. Second, while members of Congress, judges, and defense attorneys are demanding the evidence, the Bush Administration methodically gathers every copy and destroys the evidence. Third, while people uniformly demand a special prosecutor, the Justice Department insists that it will investigate itself. Fourth, almost immediately upon rejecting a special prosecutor, the Justice Department then claims its own investigation of its own misconduct as an excuse not to turn over any evidence of its misconduct to courts. Of course, it waits until a late Friday when all such scandalous acts are committed to avoid news coverage.

I have seen more reputable conduct from mob attorneys. The fact is that the court has an independent interest in such information, which can be supplied under seal or in summary form. Congress has the same interest. It is perfectly outrageous for the Justice Department to deny any conflict of interest when the tapes showed the commission of a crime (the torture of suspects) ordered by the President of the United States. There is also the not so minor issue of the involvement of people at the White House, CIA, and yes the Justice Department.

Finally, there is the fact that Attorney General Mukasey swore implausibly that he did not know what waterboarding is and, even when told, refused to acknowledge the various courts decisions defining it as torture. Since his confirmation, he has refused demands that he answer that question for the obvious reason that it would confirm that President Bush ordered criminal acts. Sen. Feingold has led this worthy but thus far fruitless effort. Mukasey will now head an investigation involving the very subject of waterboarding.

Once again, the question is how along the Democrats allow this moving farce to last. Democrats need to insist on a special prosecutor and address directly the crime of torture — regardless of the knowledge of some of their leaders.

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24 thoughts on “Bush Administration Refuses to Turn Over Information to Court on Tape Destruction; Judge Told Not to “Interfere””

  1. Those of you who are so hung up on water boarding should give pause to consider that the detainees that were “tortured” had already committed much greater offenses than water boarding.

    Their comrades would consider water boarding as mild treatment compared to their preferred forms of treatment of journalist, human rights volunteers, civil service workers, and regular military personnel. Castration, rape, beatings, electrocution, and ultimately beheading is the language of torture that they understand.

    Your arguments only give fuel to the notion that the U.S. population is soft when it comes to dealing with tough situations. We are the “cut and run” nation when it comes down to the real events in warfare.

  2. Zactly…

    I keep hearing ‘W” saying “They hate us for our freedom”…

    The new strategy: Not if he has anything to do with it!

  3. Oh yeah, lost in theory I forgot what is the biggest load of hooey concerning the reality of torture warrants and ticking time bombs: they’re mutually exclusive. Based on actions of our government that are already public we know that the entire argument for “torture warrants” is fraudulent. The government already says it can’t wait for a warrant to tap someone’s phone, and under FISA, they don’t. The current administration claims that even after the fact warrants are too burdensome. There is no way the government is going to wait for a warrant to torture someone when the “time bomb is ticking.” And the notion that a meaningful judicial review can be conducted before issuing a warrant with the bomb “ticking” is absurd.

    The only possible implementation of “torture warrants” is nothing more than a legalistic sham because the emergency nature of the situation will always be cited as an exigent circumstance that justifies torture in advance of the warrant. As it is now, the only consequence to the government, or its agents, for such a violation with say, a search warrant, is inadmissibility of evidence in court. Since these warrants would be designed with inadmissibility as a given, the government can, and will act, with complete impunity.

  4. So well said.

    What we have to fear is stimulus/response extinction. The horror and repugnance that the very idea of torture arouses (in at least my generation of Americans) can be dulled and muted by repeated exposure to the concept. If we talk about it long enough as a society, people will begin to think of it as a viable alternative as Dunce apparently does. Dunce and his fellows can patiently and reasonably advocate for the barbaric and unthinkable…and if they do so long enough…….

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