[JURIST] The federal judge presiding over the trial of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] was seeking information about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] around the time the CIA destroyed videotapes of the interrogations [JURIST news archive] of terror suspects, including Zubaydah, according to court documents released in the Moussaoui case Wednesday. The court documents also say that the lead prosecutor may have known that the CIA had destroyed the videotapes more than a year before the government acknowledged the destruction in court. Moussaoui's attorneys submitted documents to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in December in an effort to send the case back to the Eastern District of Virginia to find out whether the existence of the videotape of Zubaydah should have been disclosed and whether it would have caused Moussaoui not to plead guilty [JURIST report]. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) [official website] has already called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the videotapes' destruction, while government officials familiar with the case argue that the lead prosecutor in the Moussaoui case was not obligated to disclose the videotapes of Zubaydah because the court had already decided Zubaydah was not relevant to the Moussaoui case. The accusations made by Moussaoui's lawyers contradict statements [JURIST report] made in December by CIA Director Michael Hayden [official profile] that the tapes had no relevance to any court proceeding at the time of their destruction.
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 Moussaoui trial. Hayden acknowledged [statement text] in December 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. The US Justice Department has opened a criminal probe [JURIST report] into the matter, and multiple congressional inquiries are underway. The New York Times has more. AP has additional coverage.