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New Docs Shed Light On White House Role In CIA Tape Destruction


Zachary Roth | December 2, 2009

Bush White House officials met with top CIA honchos to discuss the agency’s torture tapes that later were destroyed, according to new documents obtained recently by the ACLU.

An email from February 22, 2003 reveals that the meeting was called to discuss how the CIA should respond to a letter from Rep. Jane Harman advising the agency not to destroy the tapes. The White House’s participation in discussions of the issue of the tapes was previously known. But the February 2003 email is the earliest known record of the White House’s participation.

Alex Abdo, an ACLU legal fellow, writes about the new documents here.

Among those documents, Abdo writes, are two November 2005 cables from a CIA field office to CIA headquarters requesting permission to destroy the tapes, and a third cable, sent soon after, confirming their destruction. The cables were sent directly after the Washington Post revealed the existence of CIA black sites, and the New York Times reported that the CIA Inspector General had questioned the legality of the agency’s torture program. In other words, the CIA may have destroyed the tapes in order to keep the full extent of the torture program from the public.



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