Update 12/8 10:00am Eastern: What Harriet Miers knew.
And Ed Morrissey takes a closer look at what Reps. Silvestre Reyes and Pete Hoekstra say they did and didn’t know.
Update 1:05pm Eastern. Tom Maguire: “This ongoing selective outrage by the Congressional overseers is ridiculous.”
Par for the course.
The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.
The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects — including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody — to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.
The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.
The newspaper expresses its explicit hope that its scoop on the tapes will “reignite the debate over the use of severe interrogation techniques on terror suspects, and their destruction raises questions about whether C.I.A. officials withheld information about aspects of the program from the courts and from the Sept. 11 commission appointed by President Bush and Congress.” But remember: Bill Keller tells us that he and his reporters “are agnostic as to where a story may lead; we do not go into a story with an agenda or a pre-conceived notion.” Uh-huh. The news just happens to be perfectly timed as the Supreme Court hears a Gitmo case and, as the WaPo, notes, on the same day “House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on legislation that would prohibit the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics by the CIA and bring intelligence agencies in line with rules followed by the U.S. military.”
So, how bad is it? The Left is going bananas–with one its most unhinged bloggers now dubbing America a “Banana Republic.” It is bad. Center and right-leaning bloggers are weighing in. James Joyner points out that “People have gone to jail for obstruction of justice for actions much, much less brazen than this.” Ed Morrissey believes the tape destruction “looks a lot more like destroying evidence than tightening security.” Rick Moran concludes “Any way you slice it, someone needs to be held accountable for the tape’s destruction.”
It is worth noting that the CIA actually informed members of Congress about the tapes four years ago and also informed them in advance about their intention to ultimately destroy the tapes. One leading Democrat admits he knew about the destruction of the tapes last fall. Via AP:
Rep. Jane Harman of California, then the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was one of only four members of Congress in 2003 informed of the tapes’ existence and the CIA’s intention to ultimately destroy them.
“I told the CIA that destroying videotapes of interrogations was a bad idea and urged them in writing not to do it,” Harman said. While key lawmakers were briefed on the CIA’s intention to destroy the tapes, they were not notified two years later when the spy agency actually carried out the plan. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the committee only learned of the tapes’ destruction in November 2006.
They knew and they did nothing.