Friday, December 7, 2007

Lying as art

Oh no, here we go again. Yesterday's revelation that the C.I.A. destroyed tapes of interrogations of two high-level al-Qaida operatives in 2005 — recordings whose existence were not revealed to the Sept. 11 commission or to judges in criminal proceedings against the operatives and other terror suspects — raises real doubts about the truthfulness of our government in what is surely its most crucial test since World War II. CIA officials claim they destroyed the tapes — in the midst of investigations — to protect the identities of agents conducting the interrogations. But that rings untrue. According to the New York Times, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told employees yesterday that the decision was made "within the CIA" because the tapes no longer had intelligence value. More likely, the tapes were destroyed to protect agency officials from criminal prosecution because they allegedly show the use of improper and illegal interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. That raises the specter of obstruction of justice and perjury on the part of agency officials, because the materials were requested by the courts, Congress and the Sept. 11 commission. The Times also reported today that the decision to destroy the tapes was made by Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., the head of the Directorate of Operations, the agency’s clandestine service, and that Porter J. Goss, CIA director at the time, was not told that the tapes would be destroyed and was angered to learn that they had been.

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