Thursday, February 14, 2008

24,000 Gitmo Interrogation Tapes

By Cernig

There were over 24,000 tapes made of interrogations at Gitmo, according to official statements by military officers. What happened to them?
Newark, NJ—Seton Hall Law’s Center for Policy and Research has discovered new evidence of a longstanding government practice of recording interrogations at Guantánamo Bay. In light of the national debate about the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) destruction of video recordings, the report proves that the two CIA tapes that were destroyed were only a tiny fraction of perhaps 24,000 recorded interrogations.

A May 2005 report by Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley confirms that each interrogation at Guantánamo was videotaped. Lieutenant General Randall Schmidt issued a report the following month stating that more than 24,000 interrogations of detainees took place at Guantánamo over a three-year period.
Law students at Seton Hall combed through the government’s own documents, most of which were procured through Freedom of Information Act suits to compile the Center's latest Gitmo Report, one of seven. They found documentary evidence for the following:
Seton Hall Law has discovered records indicating that the more than 24,000 interrogations conducted at Guantánamo were videotaped. However, despite evidence of their existence from its own generals, DOD has yet to admit that these records exist.

DOD has video cameras in every Guantánamo interrogation room and each interrogation was observed by intelligence agents and other agency monitors on closed circuit units.

Multiple intelligence-gathering agencies conducted interrogations of detainees in the Guantánamo Bay video-monitored rooms. Agencies include the CIA, Criminal Investigation Task Force, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Defense Intelligence Analysis, Army Criminal Investigative Division, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Detainees routinely refer to the videotapes of their interrogations.

The government records contain graphic evidence that interrogators regularly used force and violence while interrogating detainees. These same interrogators often hindered videotaping during interrogations by covering and obstructing the surveillance cameras.

The U.S. government keeps meticulous records of all interrogations, evidenced by FBI agent accounts of detailed logs available to provide detainees’ names, dates and room locations of interrogations, as well as the names of the interviewers. The government systematically logs all video recordings.
Time for Congress to step in, because as Professor Mark Denbeaux, Director of the Center for Policy and Research at Seton Hall Law, commented this:
“impacts the impending trials of the six detainees. We all want to see the perpetrators of 9/11 punished. But if the tapes of those interrogations still exist, it is imperative that we understand, before these trials start, whether the information was obtained through standard interrogation procedures or through torture.”
The full PDF of the report, which includes copies of original documents, is here. I urge you to read it, including the graphic (and redacted) descriptions of violence on detainees sufficient to shake the cameras recording their interrogations.

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