Monday, February 22, 2010
Memos say Republican leader did not object to destruction of interrogation tapes
So when was it, exactly, that the inmates took control of the asylum? News from Washington that newly released documents indicate that the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee did not object to CIA plans to destroy videotapes of "enhanced" interrogations of terror suspects in 2003 again raises the uncomfortable specter of a U.S. Congress abdicating its oversight responsibilities under pressure from the executive branch. The formerly secret documents were released Monday in response to freedom-of-information requests by three nonprofit organizations, according to the New York Times. The disclosures should add impetus to a criminal investigation into the destruction of the tapes started by the Justice Department in 2008. Attorney General Eric Holder, who took office last year after the inauguration of Barack Obama, a Democrat, also asked investigators to review the decision to use invasive interrogation techniques following the election of Barack Obama, a Democrat, to the presidency. The documents also show that the CIA refused to allow ranking members of Congress to see any of the covert prisons the agency used to house terror suspects captured overseas or to witness any of the "enhanced" interrogations approved by then-president George W. Bush in apparent violation of U.S. treaty obligations. The committee chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), issued a statement Monday denying that he approved the destruction of the tapes. The tapes, reported to show the interrogations of top al-Qaida operatives Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were destroyed by the CIA in 2005. But a CIA memo prepared after Roberts was briefed by the agency in February 2003 says "Senator Roberts listened carefully and gave his assent," the Times said. The nonprofit groups that requested the memos, Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University, said the 100 pages of documents, which were heavily blacked out, showed the need for a full public investigation of the interrogation program, the Times said.