The story of the destroyed torture tapes is back in the news, and this time, the White House isn’t looking as clean.
Earlier, it had been reported that the White House (specifically, Harriet Miers) had advised against destroying the tapes, which is the correct legal advice.
It was previously reported that some administration officials had advised against destroying the tapes, but the emerging picture of White House involvement is more complex. In interviews, several administration and intelligence officials provided conflicting accounts as to whether anyone at the White House expressed support for the idea that the tapes should be destroyed.
One former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said there had been “vigorous sentiment” among some top White House officials to destroy the tapes. The former official did not specify which White House officials took this position, but he said that some believed in 2005 that any disclosure of the tapes could have been particularly damaging after revelations a year earlier of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Some other officials assert that no one at the White House advocated destroying the tapes. Those officials acknowledged, however, that no White House lawyer gave a direct order to preserve the tapes or advised that destroying them would be illegal.
Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David S. Addington, who was the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and is now his chief of staff; John B. Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel.
Given what we now know about Gonzales — and especially Addington — I find it hard to believe that they would advocate preserving the tapes.
BREAKING NEWS — Apparently, they’re burning documents as well:
They used axes to break windows on the third floor of the ornate building shortly after the blaze broke out after 9 a.m.
Within an hour, smoke had stopped pouring from the building.
Vice President Dick Cheney’s working offices are in the West Wing of the White House, and he was not in the EEOB at the time of the fire.
Smoke could be seen from the White House driveway.