Earlier this week, ThinkProgress raised the issue of whether CIA Director Michael Hayden is lying when he claims that “videotaping stopped in 2002.” The New York Times reported that former prisoner Muhammad Bashmilah, who claims “he was held by the C.I.A.,” said he “saw cameras in interrogation rooms after 2002.”
Since then, more evidence has emerged that videotaped interrogations were occurring after 2002. The Chicago Tribune reports that in Feb. 2003, the CIA abducted a man named Abu Omar and rendered him to Egypt. The prisoner, who is now living in Alexandria, Egypt, said he could hear interrogators recording “the sounds of my torture and my cries“:
A suspected terrorist abducted in Italy and flown to Egypt by the CIA said he believed his captors made audiotapes of his extensive interrogations in an Egyptian prison that recorded “the sounds of my torture and my cries.” The prisoner said he was blindfolded but could hear what sounded like a tape cassette being flipped over and reinserted.
“I remember once while being interrogated, the interrogator asked me to wait a second and then I could hear the click of the device and I could hear him changing the cassette,” said Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, who spent nearly four years in an Egyptian prison before an Egyptian court ordered his release earlier this year.
The former prisoner also said that, “the first seven months of my imprisonment, right after my kidnapping and arrival in Egypt, the place where I was held had cameras everywhere. There were cameras in the bathrooms, interrogation rooms as well as hallways. The cameras were all over the place.”
In 2005, an Italian judge ordered the arrest of American CIA agents for illegally abducting Abu Omar and torturing him. The case is still being litigated, but all the American defendants “have left Italy, and a senior U.S. official has said they would not be turned over for prosecution even if Rome requests it.”
In response to the new allegations, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to Director Hayden asking him to answer a series of questions, including:
To your knowledge, have any interrogations of detainees rendered by the CIA been video or audio recorded?
Were any such recordings made at the request of the CIA?
Has the CIA ever reviewed any such recordings?
Have any such recordings ever been in the possession of the CIA?
See Durbin’s full letter to Hayden here. He also wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to determine her level of knowledge about these incidents, and he requested that Attorney General Michael Mukasey include this case as part of his investigation into the CIA’s destruction of tapes.