Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Waterboarding update – maybe Mike Hayden needs a taste

First, if the White House has been court-ordered not to destroy torture-related evidence, it’s a clear lie for Bush to say “I didn’t know anything about waterboarding.”

Second, I posted earlier this week that third-party countries that cooperate in CIA renditions might have more tapes. Well, we don’t know that yet, but the fact that the waterboarding incidents occurred in other countries was the legal loophole the Spook Shack used to avoid court order about not destroying the tapes:

(T)he tapes themselves were never brought onto U.S. territory; they were kept, and later destroyed, at a secret location overseas. At one point portions of the tapes were electronically transmitted to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., so a small number of officials there could review them. A counterterrorism source, who also asked for anonymity when discussing this subject, said that there was no reason to believe that any recordings of such an electronic feed still exist.

That said, I’m of the opinion that more stuff still does exist overseas in black-site countries, and, as I posted earlier, that the Spook Shack likely would have transferred technical physical custody to torture partners as an extra layer of legal CYA at some point.

Hell, for that case, maybe individual CIA agents went Abu Ghraib and whipped out their own cell-phone cameras or something.

Anyway, whether any more such tapes exist or not, here’s how the Clusterfucked Idiots’ Agency’s stance on the tapes we know once existed all played out:
The CIA destroyed the tapes in November 2005. That June, U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. had ordered the Bush administration to safeguard “all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.”

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued a nearly identical order that July.

At the time, that seemed to cover all detainees in U.S. custody. But Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the terrorism suspects whose interrogations were videotaped and then destroyed, weren't at Guantanamo Bay. They were prisoners that existed off the books — and apparently beyond the scope of the court's order.

Leading the Head Spook to defend his agency thusly:
CIA director Michael Hayden told the agency in an e-mail this week that internal reviewers found the tapes were not relevant to any court case.

A sweet-and-sour legal bankshot.

But, this thing might not be over:
Attorneys say that might not matter. David H. Remes, a lawyer for Yemeni citizen Mahmoad Abdah and others, asked Kennedy this week to schedule a hearing on the issue.

In legal documents filed in January 2005, Assistant Attorney General Peter D. Keisler assured Kennedy that government officials were "well aware of their obligation not to destroy evidence that may be relevant in pending litigation.”

Assurance from the Department of Justice?

I’ve got BushCo DOJ “assurance” in one hand, and a warm, steaming pile of crap in the other. How do you tell the difference?

It’s simple – the warm, steaming pile of crap still has more substance.

Beyond that, here’s an idea. Let’s waterboard Hayden until he pleas guilty to perjury and/or obstruction of justice, along with former CIA operations chief Jose Rodriguez, the man who signed off on destroying the tapes. And, they admit to any more tapes or other evidence.

It’s called “poetic justice.”

Update: Hayden knew of the existence of the tapes before becoming CIA head:
Hayden said he learned of the terrorist interrogation videotapes more than a year ago in his tenure as principal deputy director of national intelligence, a post he held from April 2005 to May 2006. He said he did not know that the tapes were being destroyed.