While the Bush Administration works to prevent anyone from investigating its own possible misconduct in the CIA tape scandal, the 9-11 Commission has already concluded that the Administration lied to its investigators and destroyed evidence specifically demanded by the Commission.
The New York Times is reporting that a review of classified documents by former members of the Sept. 11 commission shows that the Commission made repeated and detailed requests to the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 and 2004 for documents and other information about the interrogation of operatives of Al Qaeda, and were told by a top C.I.A.
It will be pretty difficult to find a technical argument like the one raised by the Justice Department recently before Judge Kennedy in Washington. In June 2005, Kennedy handed down an order for the Administration to preserve “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 and the Administration is relying on a technicality — the two suspects tortured in the videos were not in Cuba. However, such preservation orders are supposed to be given liberal interpretation. Moreover, the government knew that the tapes have been sought by Congress and other courts. Finally, it knew that the tapes would likely be sought in this and other cases, including in the inevitable filings of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
If Congress really wanted to see action on this matter, it could use the 9-11 request to initiate criminal contempt proceedings and refer the case to the Justice Department for prosecution. If Mukasey refuses, it could push for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
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