The CIA denied Congress and the 9/11 Commission access to a video of Abu Zubaydah and another unnamed detainee's "enhanced" interrogation - which, for each of them, might have involved a round of water-boarding or time in a tiny wooden crate called the "dog box." Today, the New York Times reported that the CIA destroyed these videos in 2005.
After the Times alerted the CIA that they were running an article on the subject, Gen. Michael Hayden justified erasing this evidence by crying "national security." If the video-tapes had been leaked to the public, he said, CIA officers and their families would've been exposed to "retailiation from Al Qaeda and its sympathizers."
Come on, Hayden, we all know what you really mean. The statement should be re-edited to say "retaliation from Congress, the Supreme Court and their sympathizers."
New School President Bob Kerrey, who served on the 9/11 Commission panel, wrote me a brief but dire assessment over email: "They (CIA) lied to Congress, the Court and the 9-11 Commission. They admit they lied after a journalist uncovered the fact that they had destroyed the evidence. Finally, because they used illegal interrogation techniques, they compromised the legal case against Zubayda and Khalid Sheikh Muhammed. No good news here."
But at the very least, he noted, there is something to be said for the Times coverage. "The story this AM is another terrific example of something that can only happen in (relatively) open democracies."
The "enhanced interrogation" debate is pretty unnerving, if you consider the fact that Ramzi Yousef, who executed the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, told two FBI agents everything they needed to know during a conversation on an airplane flight. I don't think our administration's desire to torture has anything to do with intelligence gathering. If you ask me, using the CIA to do the work of prisoner holding and interrogation (which case officers have never been trained to do in the past), is merely the outgrowth of post-9/11 hatred of Arabs/Muslims, who of course are seen as one and the same, and an insatiable hunger for revenge.
Now, about 80 out of 300 Guantanamo detainees are facing military tribunals at a portable tent city called Camp Justice in Guantanamo Bay. Presumably, this military commissions court is too embarrassing a sight to be located on American soil. None of the detainees have been charged with a crime, but the prosecution is able to deny them access to lawyers inside the courtroom and use hearsay as evidence against them. So in a hi-tech and institutionalized mass-lynching, it looks like most of these "terrorists" will go to jail forever. Or, some Americans hope, they will go to Hell. Finally, America will have its tasty revenge.
George W. Bush will step out of office in January 2009, returning to his Texas ranch and a steaming plate of Huevos Rancheros. He and his cronies will leave the rest of America to rebuild our decimated legal system. Deeply embarassing and tragic discoveries about what happened at Guantanamo and in the CIA's "black sites" will eventually abound, no doubt. And only then will the Bush Administration establish a legacy that will persevere through the ages. I am not one to miss a historic moment, so I will be at the Hague when it happens.