Destroying the Tapes

Via Andrew Sullivan, an article in the International Herald Tribune:

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 CIA’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 CIA 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 CIA said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the CIA 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, Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.

(I’ve italicized the same set of words Sullivan did.)

Sullivan notes this has happened before, and goes on:

This was a deliberate act to destroy evidence of war-crimes and to protect war criminals from facing the rule of law.

And he asks – what defines a banana republic?

How about an executive that ignores the rule of law, commits war-crimes and then destroys the actual evidence?

Having spent a lot of time in military dictatorships, it sounds about right to me, though he is leaving out the bit where those in charge promote a martial attitude in the public, demonize those who don’t buy it, and help themselves to the public coffers.