This Is A Banana Republic

Agabuse

What defines such a republic? How about an executive that ignores the rule of law, commits war-crimes and then destroys the actual evidence? Today's bombshell is that the CIA has done just that with respect to tapes  made recording the torture of enemy combatants. Read the whole story. We live in a country where the government can detain indefinitely, torture in secret, and then secretly destroy the tapes of torture sessions to protect its own staff:

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in CIA custody to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said. The CIA said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made "within the CIA itself," and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.

My italics. This was a deliberate act to destroy evidence of war-crimes and to protect war criminals from facing the rule of law. The Congress needs to find out who authorized the destruction of those tapes. I should add that this is not the first time that videotapes of alleged torture sessions have been "lost." The same happened in the case of Jose Padilla:

The missing DVD dates from March 2, 2004. It contains a video of the last interrogation session of Padilla, then a declared 'enemy combatant' under an order from President Bush, while he was being held in military custody at a U.S. Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. But in recent days, in the course of an unusual court hearing about Padilla's mental condition, a government lawyer disclosed to a surprised courtroom that the Defense Intelligence Agency which had custody of the evidence was no longer able to locate the DVD. As a result, it was not included in a packet of classified DVDs that was recently turned over to defense lawyers under orders from Judge Cooke.

The disclosure that the Pentagon had lost a potentially important piece of evidence in one of the U.S. government's highest-profile terrorism cases was met with claims of incredulity by some defense lawyers and human-rights groups monitoring the case. "This is the kind of thing you hear when you’re litigating cases in Egypt or Morocco or Karachi," said John Sifton, a lawyer with Human Rights Watch, one of a number of groups that has criticized the U.S. government’s treatment of Padilla. "It is simply not credible that they would have lost this tape. The administration has shown repeatedly they are more interested in covering up abuses than getting to the bottom of whether people were abused."

A potential opening for Congressional investigation:

The tapes, recorded in 2002 and destroyed in 2005, were not provided to the September 11 Commission despite a formal request to the CIA for "transcripts and any other documentary evidence" taken from interrogations. The Commission completed its work in 2004.

The story also reports that CIA attorneys told "federal prosecutors in 2003 and 2005, who relayed the information to a federal court in the Moussaoui case, that the C.I.A. did not possess recordings of interrogations sought by the judge in the case." Moussaoui had sought the tapes as exculpatory evidence.

This administration commits war-crimes, hides the evidence from federal law officers and the 9/11 Commission and then destroys the evidence completely. Give that some time to sink in.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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