CIA tapes were destroyed to ‘save image.’

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"CIA tapes were destroyed to ‘save image.’"

The New York Times reports that the CIA’s “every action in the prolonged drama of the interrogation videotapes was prompted in part by worry about how its conduct might be perceived — by Congress, by prosecutors, by the American public and by Muslims worldwide.” The Times adds:

By late 2002, interrogators were recycling videotapes, preserving only two days of tapes before recording over them, one C.I.A. officer said. Finally, senior agency officials decided that written summaries of prisoners’ answers would suffice.

Still, that decision left hundreds of hours of videotape of the two Qaeda figures locked in an overseas safe.

Clandestine service officers who had overseen the interrogations began pushing hard to destroy the tapes. But George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, was wary, in part because the agency’s top lawyer, Scott W. Muller, advised against it, current and former officials said.

Yet agency officials decided to float the idea of eliminating the tapes on Capitol Hill, hoping for political cover. In February 2003, Mr. Muller told members of the House and Senate oversight committees about the C.I.A’s interest in destroying the tapes for security reasons.

The tapes recorded a program “so closely guarded that President Bush himself had agreed with intelligence officials’ advice that he not be told the locations of the secret C.I.A. prisons.”

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