Politics

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Justice Department Begins Criminal Investigation of CIA

January 07, 2008 02:24 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey appoints John Durham to oversee the inquiry into the destruction of video tapes recording the use harsh interrogation techniques.

30-Second Summary

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The tapes, made in 2002 and destroyed in 2005, were videos of CIA agents questioning al-Qaida members Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Mike Hayden, the CIA director, said in an internal statement to employees on Dec. 7 that the necessary congressional oversight groups had been notified of the decision to destroy the tapes. He said that if left intact, the tapes could pose a security threat to the CIA operatives involved and their families.

Yet officials from other federal government bodies and political pundits have alleged the act was an obstruction of justice and may have prevented important information getting to the 9/11 Commission.

The New York Times, for one, writes, “It is essential that the truth of what was on those tapes and how they came to be destroyed now comes out and that all of the government officials involved in their destruction be held legally accountable—whether they are CIA officers or top White House officials who spent three years debating whether to destroy the tapes.”

The host of online radio show and blog Captain’s Quarters said, “The CIA had a positive duty to either provide [the tapes] or explain why they couldn’t. Lying about it in either case constitutes obstruction.”

However, it may not be immaterial to the inquiry that in 2002, according to a December article in The Washington Post, the CIA briefed senior Democrats and Republicans on the use of harsh techniques. As the Post observed, the tapes were destroyed only when the mood on Capitol Hill was swinging against the use of waterboarding.  

Appointed by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to determine officially whether the CIA acted outside of the law is John Durham, Connecticut federal prosecutor and first assistant U.S. attorney.

Headline Links: ‘Mukasey Launches Criminal Investigation in CIA Tape Case’

Background: The tapes

“Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002”

Reactions: ‘A serious security risk’

Opinion & Analysis: The Department of Justice, the investigator and the rule of law

Reference Material: The Department of Justice

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