Patt Morrison for November 10, 2010

Justice Department will not charge CIA for destroying water boarding tapes

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Marietta Hedges yells at volunteer torture victim Maboub Ebrahimzdeh as human rights activists demonstrate water boarding in front of the Justice Department in Washington DC.

Just under the deadline for prosecuting someone under federal laws—five years to the day after the top CIA clandestine officer and others destroyed 92 videos of officers water boarding al-Qaida operatives—the Justice Department announced yesterday that it will not charge anyone with a crime. Jose Rodriguez, the CIA's officer who approved the destruction of the tapes, said he worried that the videos would be devastating to the agency if they ever surfaced. The ruling doesn’t preclude the possibility of charging someone with lying to investigators looking into the tape destruction or further investigating whether the harsh questioning went beyond legal boundaries, but it has raised eyebrows. It’s also provided an interesting case study of how the issue has been handed over from the Bush to the Obama Justice Departments. After a three-year investigation into whether destroying the tapes amounted to a crime, the Bush Justice Department decided not to file charges. When Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder inherited the case, he expanded the investigation to look into whether CIA officers’ interrogation tactics violated the law. What should be the next course of action?

Guests:

Alex Abdo, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national security program

Michael Scheuer, adjunct professor at Georgetown University and formerly with the CIA


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