Interview Questions May Reveal Focus of Special Prosecutor Durham’s Torture Tape Investigation
I talked yesterday about one of the puzzling documents in last week’s FOIA dump. In this post, I wanted to try to figure out why the most puzzling document–the Interview Questions from PDF 106-108. The document has no date nor any office information–it’s just a 3-page list of questions marked Top Secret.
Given how little we have to go on, this is just a wildarsed guess. But I’m guessing the questions were used in CIA Inspector General’s review of the torture program while interviewing someone who, while at CTC, had had a supervisory role over the program. And I’m guessing John Durham withheld this document under the law enforcement privilege because he was using these questions to make better sense of the interview report, which presumably is one of the interview reports identified to have ties to the torture tapes, but which remains classified.
At first, I wasn’t sure this was a set of questions from the IG Report. But question 24, which asks about a specific EIT used with Rahim al-Nashiri at what must be a third black site, maps onto the IG Report’s description of the use of a gun and a drill to threaten al-Nashiri in what, too, must have been al-Nashiri’s second black site (because we know the Thai black site closed in December 2002). Significantly, it was a CTC debriefer who made these death threats against al-Nashiri.
In addition to the interview report of John McPherson (PDF 33-37) there are two or three IG interview reports associated with the torture tapes. The Vaughn Index of hard-copy documents shows an interview report dated February 19, 2003. The interrogation index shows interview reports from February 3 and February 10, 2003. Assuming these are three different interviews, one of the interviews is probably the interview in question. Significantly, we know from a number of Vaughn Index entries that there was some discussion about how to arrange for the IG to review the tapes on February 7, 2003, so it’s possible that the interview in question preceded the IG’s efforts to go review the tapes.
In any case, the items of interest to John Durham’s investigation must be the CTC officer’s response to the following two or three questions.
8. What is the background related to the decision to videotape interrogations [redacted]?
9. What are your views regarding whether the tapes should be destroyed?
10. What was the rational [sic] for transferring responsibility from [redacted]?
I’m assuming the answers to those questions–in one of the actual interview reports–is considered too classified to be released in any form.
One more item on this point. Note the document at PDF 95-99, which is clearly someone within the IG office forwarding a trip report from the torture review to the person who originally wrote the trip report. Most of this clearly pertains to the review of the videotape. But the last two paragraphs or so refers to three interviews.
Finally, one more question all this raises. When did the IG decide to review the torture tapes? When did the IG review become the big delay on destroying the torture tapes? We know it happened before February 5, 2003, when Scott Muller briefed Jane Harman and Porter Goss, because she references the IG review in her letter objecting to their destruction. But the Abu Zubaydah document written some time in January doesn’t mention an IG review.