[JURIST] The CIA made plans to destroy videotapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects [JURIST news archive] as early as 2003, according to correspondence [press release] made public by US Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) Thursday. In a February 2003 letter [PDF text] from Harman to the CIA general counsel, Harman referenced a congressional briefing where she was informed of the existence of a videotape showing the interrogation of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah. Harman wrote:
You discussed the fact that there is videotape of Abu Zubaydah following his capture that will be destroyed after the Inspector General finishes his inquiry. I would urge the Agency to reconsider that plan. Even if the videotape does not constitute an official record that must be preserved under the law, the videotape would be the best proof that the written record is accurate, if such record is called into question in the future. The fact of destruction would reflect badly on the Agency.Harman has previously said she was not informed when the videotapes were eventually destroyed [JURIST report].
Earlier this week, the US Justice Department announced that it has opened a criminal investigation [JURIST report] into the destruction of the tapes. Existence of the videotapes was verified in November after the CIA admitted it had mistakenly denied [JURIST report] that it had recorded interrogations in a court declaration during the trial of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged [statement text] last month that the CIA had videotaped the interrogation of two al Qaeda suspects in 2002, but said that the tapes had been destroyed in 2005 amid concerns that they could be leaked to the public and compromise the identities of the interrogators. In addition to the DOJ investigation, multiple congressional inquiries have been launched into the tapes' destruction. The Washington Post has more.