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Durbin calls for DOJ probe into CIA terror tape destruction

[JURIST] US Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) [official profile] sent a letter [text] to US Attorney General Michael Mukasey Friday, asking that the US Department of Justice [official website] launch an investigation into whether the CIA's destruction of videotaped recordings of two terror suspects in 2002 could be considered obstruction of justice. Existence of the videotapes was verified in November after the CIA admitted it had mistakenly denied [JURIST report] that it had recorded interrogations, and in a letter to CIA employees on Thursday, CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that the tapes had been destroyed in 2005 [JURIST report]. In his letter to Mukasey, Durbin wrote:

I urge you to investigate whether CIA officials who destroyed these videotapes and withheld information about their existence from official proceedings violated the law. ...

The CIA apparently withheld information about the existence of these videotapes from official proceedings, including the 9/11 Commission and a federal court. ...

CIA Director Hayden asserts that the videotapes were destroyed "in line with the law." However, it is the Justice Department's role to determine whether the law was violated.
In a speech on the Senate floor Friday, Durbin also dismissed fears cited by Hayden that the tapes could be leaked to the public and compromise the identities of the interrogators, saying that it's possible to to cover the faces of interrogators that appear on camera.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said Friday that President Bush was unaware of the existence of the video tapes before Thursday, but that she could not rule out the involvement of other White House staff [transcript]. Destruction of the tapes could affect both the defense and prosecution in trials of Guantanamo Bay detainees as evidence contained within them could cast doubt on, or solidify, the reliability of information obtained under harsh interrogation tactics. AP has more.

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