Strong Words

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/Torture, White House SecrecyLeave a Comment

In an editorial in today’s New York Times, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton (the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the 9/11 commission) outright and openly accuse the CIA and the White House of obstruction:

The commission’s mandate was sweeping and it explicitly included the intelligence agencies. But the recent revelations that the C.I.A. destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot. Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the C.I.A. — or the White House — of the commission’s interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot. Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations.

They close with this:

As a legal matter, it is not up to us to examine the C.I.A.’s failure to disclose the existence of these tapes. That is for others. What we do know is that government officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the president, to investigate one the greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.

AFTERNOON UPDATE:  Just came over the wires — the Justice Department will launch a criminal probe into the destruction of the tapes.  Of course, my confidence in the Justice Department is pretty low….