Friday, February 15, 2008

We Can Erase It for You Wholesale

By Cernig

Following yesterday's Seton Law Hall report that says upwards of 24,000 videotapes of Gitmo interrogations were made, the Pentagon is refusing to comment - but previous statements by the Gitmo commander and other officers point to wholesale destruction of evidence. The tapes were treated like tapes of "House" reruns.
The concerns are based in part on a recent court filing by Guantanamo's commander, Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby, who said video surveillance recordings in several areas of the facility have been automatically overwritten and no longer exist.

"In January 2008, it was brought to my attention that such . . . [recording] systems may have been automatically overwriting video data contained on recording devices, at predetermined intervals," Buzby wrote. "That is, only a specified number of days' worth of recorded data could be retained on the recording devices at a time."

Defense lawyers said the admission suggests that the military has not complied with a 2005 court order to preserve such evidence, even if the deletion of the recordings was inadvertent. They claim that the tapes were of potential use at forthcoming court hearings and trials, a view supported by a Seton Hall University report

...Military officials familiar with interrogations at the prison of a group of 14 high-value detainees over the past 16 months -- including five of the six charged with criminal conspiracy on Monday -- said those sessions were monitored through video cameras but not recorded. But they declined to comment on any taping of hundreds of others at the prison.

Noting that the CIA has admitted destroying videotapes of aggressive interrogations of two detainees, the authors of the Seton Hall report said the military and other government agencies present at Guantanamo have "identical motives to destroy taped investigations." They added: "The taped interrogations recorded at Guantanamo Bay are equally important to evaluating the reliability of the evidence against a detainee."
Recall also that the CIA has admitted it waterboarded three suspects, but hasn't said word one about what the other agencies involved in interrogations might have done - the 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 as well as private contractors who also carried out interrogations. These tapes comprise important evidence for current and future trials, and the various agencies involved seem to be conspiring to drop that evidence into the memory hole. Can we call it conspiracy to pervert the course of justice now?

(H/T reader CliveA)

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