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Sudhan @14:35 CET

By Jason Leopold | Consortiumnews.com, March 2, 2009

The CIA destroyed 92 videotapes – far more than previously known – to prevent disclosure of evidence revealing how the agency’s interrogators subjected “war on terror” detainees to waterboarding and other brutal methods, according to court documents filed by the Justice Department.

“The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed,” said a letter written by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin and filed in federal court in New York. “Ninety-two videotapes were destroyed.”

Previously, the CIA had disclosed that it had destroyed two videotapes and one audiotape of harsh interrogations of detainees. The tape destruction has been the subject of a year-long criminal investigation by John Durham, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia who was appointed special prosecutor last year by Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

In Monday’s filing, Dassin noted that a stay of a contempt motion filed by the ACLU seeking release of the tapes was allowed to expire on Feb. 28 without a request for a continuation – signaling that Durham’s investigation is now complete.

In January, Durham had indicated in a court filing that he expected to wrap up his probe by the end of February. The CIA has asked the court to give the agency until Friday to produce a list of all destroyed records, any memos relating to reconstruction of those records, and identification of witnesses who may have watched the videotapes before they were destroyed.

Dassin’s letter said some information sought by the ACLU may be classified or “protected from disclosure, such as the names of the CIA employees who viewed the videotapes.”

Dassin said the CIA “intends to produce all of the information requested to the court and to produce as much information as possible on the public record to the plaintiffs.”

Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the ACLU, said the latest disclosure “provides further evidence for holding the CIA in contempt of court.”

“The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systemic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court’s order.” Singh said. “Our contempt motion has been pending in court for over a year now – it is time to hold the CIA accountable for its flagrant disregard for the rule of law.”

Continued >>

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Justice probe may pose ‘enormous consequences’ for Bush officials

Raw Story- David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Tuesday February 17, 2009

A Department of Justice report has called into question the entire legal basis of the Bush administration’s repeated justifications of abusing prisoners captured in the former president’s terror war. According to Monday night’s guest on MSNBC’s The Rachael Maddow Show, the “consequences” of some of the report’s findings could be “enormous” for members of the Bush administration.

A draft of the report from the Office of Professional Responsibility, the department’s watchdog unit, was submitted during the waning days of the Bush administration, but former Attorney General Michael Mukasey objected to it, according to a Monday report by Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff.

“The [Justice Department] report is expected to focus on three former officials of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that advises the executive branch on the interpretation of the law,” reports the International Herald Tribune. “They are John Yoo, a Berkeley law professor, now a visiting professor at Chapman University, who was the primary author of opinions on torture while at the counsel’s office in 2002; Jay Bybee, now a judge on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who as head of the office signed the 2002 opinions, which were later withdrawn; and Steven Bradbury, who wrote three more still-secret opinions on interrogation in 2005, when he was the top lawyer in the counsel’s office.”

Mukasey and his deputy wanted the report to contain responses from Bybee and Yoo, along with Steven Bradbury, chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), at the time the report was submitted.

The OPR is now working to include the ex-officials’ responses before presenting a final version to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. If Holder accepts the report’s findings, it could be forwarded to state bar associations which may choose to disbar the attorneys.

On Monday night’s The Rachael Maddow Show, Isikoff took time to shed additional light on the subject, offering several stark possibilities.

VIDEO AND MORE HERE

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Dem Senators To DOJ: How’s That Report On Torture Opinions Coming?

Looks like it’s not just journalists who are interested in the progress of that DOJ report into whether Bush administration lawyers shaded their opinions on the legality of harsh interrogation methods in order to please the White House.

In the wake of Newsweek‘s story from over the weekend that a draft of the report criticizes several top Bush officials, including John Yoo, Democratic senators Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, both of whom sit on the Judiciary committee, have sent a letter to Marshall Jarrett, who heads the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility and is overseeing the report.

In the letter, the senators, who wrote to Jarrett last year requesting the investigation, note that, according to Newsweek, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. They ask for an update on the status of Jarrett’s probe by February 23.

They also suggest that they’ll take action if the evidence shows that DOJ lawyers shaped their opinions to conform to the White House’s views, writing:

Our intelligence professionals should be able to rely in good faith on the Justice Department’s legal advice. This good faith is undermined when Justice Department attorneys provide legal advice so misguided that it damages America’s image around the world and the Justice Department is forced to repudiate it. If the officials who provide such advice fail to comply with professional standards, they must be held accountable in order to maintain the faith of the intelligence community and the American people in the Justice Department.”

As we noted before, it’s not clear that the report will ultimately be released to the public. But at least some in Congress appear to be taking it seriously.

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‘Sadism-gate’: Call Torture ‘the Bush system,’ Olbermann says

Raw Story- David Edwards and Ron Brynaert
Published: Friday January 30, 2009

John Yoo, a former member of the Justice Department who wrote the first rationalization that torture is legal, argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday that the United States must continue to use enhanced interrogation methods, even torture, in order to stop future terror plots.

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann hit back at Yoo during his Countdown show’s ‘Still Bushed’ segment.

“Sadism-gate, that is the only explanation left, clinical sadism,” Olbermann declared.

“John Yoo, the Justice Department flunky who wrote the department’s first rationalization that torture was legal, was in the ‘Wall Street Journal of Torture‘ today insisting we must, we must, we must torture people,” Olbermann continued. “President Obama, Yoo hallucinates, may have opened the door to further terrorism attacks on U.S. soil.”

Olbermann quoted from Yoo’s op-ed: “Eliminating the Bush will mean we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Relying on the civilian justice system…robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks.”

“That study after study has proven that torture produces unreliable information, that the Bush administration humiliated itself and this nation with its boasting about stopping plots that were laughable to anybody with an IQ over 35,” Olbermann intoned, “that he and Mr. Bush did more harm to this nation internationally than any terrorist ever could seems to escape Mr. Yoo in what must literally be a lust to know that somewhere somebody was fearing death at the hands of his own government.”

Olbermann did find a silver lining in Yoo’s op-ed.

“But in his fevered delusions at least he has given us this,” Olbermann said. “He has given us a new name for torture and I think we should use it forever.”

“Water boarding, sleep deprivation, sexual degradation, threats, use of animals, as he called it,” Olbermann paused before adding dramatically, “the Bush system.”

A separate RAW STORY article on Yoo’s editorial can be read at this link.

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Jan. 29, 2009.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Torture Lover John Yoo Excoriates Obama For Banning Torture»

Think Progress- By Ali Frick at 12:04 pm

John Yoo, infamous author of the Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of torture on suspected terrorists, slams President Obama for banning torture in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, gravely warning that Obama “may have opened the door to further terrorist acts on U.S. soil.”

Throughout the article, Yoo insists that torture is America’s most effective weapon against terrorists and warns that without it, the U.S. will be incapable of intelligence-gathering:

Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial. […]

Relying on the civilian justice system not only robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks, it provides an opportunity for our enemies to obtain intelligence on us.

Considering the Bush administration repeatedly insisted its use of coercive techniques was “limited,” it would be a far stretch even for loyal Bushies to suggest that torture is not the one and only method to obtaining information. And as ThinkProgress has made clear again and again, numerous intelligence experts and real interrogators agree that, far from being “the most effective intelligence tool,” torture simply doesn’t work.

Yoo continues his screed by making up facts about Obama’s ban:

The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America. … His new order amounts to requiring — on penalty of prosecution — that CIA interrogators be polite.

Yoo has no idea what he’s talking about. Nothing requires anyone to “be polite” — although the rapport building method has often proved to be interrogators’ most effective technique. And the notion that good-cop/bad-cop would be banned is simply false, Media Matters pointed out earlier this week:

In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of “Mutt and Jeff” interrogations, which involve two interrogators “display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source.” The Field Manual says the “goal of this technique is to make the source identify with one of the interrogators and thereby establish[ing] rapport and cooperation.”

It’s no secret that Yoo is an ardent torture enthusiast: He famously said that only those techniques that inflict pain equivalent to “death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body functions” constitute torture, and last year refused to agree that the president could not order a detainee buried alive. With Obama signaling a clean break from the Bush administration’s terrorism policies, it’s no wonder Yoo is desperate to restore his crumbling torture regime.

Update- Yoo also makes it perfectly clear that Bush himself directly and explicitly ordered torture, including the waterboarding of at least three detainees:

What is needed are the tools to gain vital intelligence, which is why, under President George W. Bush, the CIA could hold and interrogate high-value al Qaeda leaders. On the advice of his intelligence advisers, the president could have authorized coercive interrogation methods like those used by Israel and Great Britain in their antiterrorism campaigns. (He could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.)

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