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Federal judge extends deadline for government report on CIA tape destruction

[JURIST] US District Judge Richard W. Roberts Thursday extended the deadline [order, PDF] for the government to comply with an order [PDF text, JURIST report] issued last month requiring it to submit a report to the court by February 14 detailing why the CIA destroyed videotapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects [JURIST news archive], whether other evidence connected to a lawsuit filed by Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainee Hani Abdullah was destroyed, and what steps the government has taken to preserve relevant evidence. Roberts issued the order, extending the deadline to March 17, in response to government arguments that compliance could interfere with a US Justice Department criminal probe [JURIST report] into the destruction of the tapes. Thursday's order also narrowed the scope of the original order, requiring only that the government detail evidence relevant to the Abdullah's case rather than all evidence relevant to any detainee. AP has more. SCOTUSblog has additional coverage.

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 [JURIST report] 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.

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