The New York Times reports this morning that "Lawyers within the clandestine branch of the Central Intelligence Agency gave written approval in advance to the destruction in 2005 of hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda, according to a former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the episode."
Call me skeptical.
As Kevin Drum points out, "The White House had been in the loop for two years. The CIA had received letters from both the Justice Department and congressional leaders arguing that the tapes shouldn’t be destroyed. The CIA’s top lawyer had been involved for the entire time. And yet we’re supposed to believe that, in 2005, a mid-ranking agency lawyer suddenly decided the tapes could be destroyed and the head of the clandestine branch then gave the order to do so without anyone else being involved? Really? Does anyone actually believe this story?"
I’m going to guess, every employee of News Corp., James Taranto, and John Hinderaker.
Two things in particular stuck out for me. Suskind has CIA sources saying that, as part of the torture devised by Bush and Rumsfeld for Khalid Sheik Muhammed, Onepercent they threatened to harm his wife and children if he did not talk. KSM told the interrogators to go ahead and kill his family, if necessary. I find it telling that the president, in this instance, became the moral equivalent of a mafia boss, committing what is clearly a violation of the Geneva Conventions, even if his motives were good ones.
We also know of Rumsfeld getting highly involved in interrogations where tortures occurred, such as at Abu Ghraib.
If Bush and/or Rumsfeld were so intimately involved as to approve of specific tortures to be used against Al Qaeda figures, or others. There would seem to be a strong reason for them to dismiss evidence of their own handiwork.
That some mid-level lawyer ALONE authorized the destruction of "hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda" is beyond ridiculous.
Which is why you wonder how much effort the media will put into it…beyond a couple days of headlines?