What Is Probably in the Missing CIA Tapes

To judge from firsthand documents obtained by the ACLU through a FOIA lawsuit, we can guess what is probably on the missing CIA interrogation tapes -- as well as understand why those implicated are spinning so hard to pretend the tapes do not document a series of evident crimes. According to the little-noticed but extraordinarily important book Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond (Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh, Columbia University Press, New York 2007), which presents dozens of original formerly secret documents - FBI emails and memos, letters and interrogator "wish lists," raw proof of the systemic illegal torture of detainees in various US-held prisons -- the typical "harsh interrogation" of a suspect in US custody reads like an account of abuses in archives at Yad Vashem.

More is still being hidden as of this writing -- as those in Congress now considering whether a special prosecutor is needed in this case should be urgently aware: "Through the FOIA lawsuit," write the authors, "we learned of the existence of multiple records relating to prisoner abuse that still have not been released by the administration; credible media reports identify others. As this book goes to print, the Bush administration is still withholding, among many other records, a September 2001 presidential directive authorizing the CIA to set up secret detention centers overseas; an August 2002 Justice Department memorandum advising the CIA about the lawfulness of waterboarding [Italics mine; nota bene, Mr. Mukasey] and other aggressive interrogation methods; documents describing interrogation methods used by special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; investigative files concerning the deaths of prisoners in U.S. custody; and numerous photographs depicting the abuse of prisoners at detention facilities other than Abu Ghraib.'

What we are likely to see if the tapes documenting the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri are ever recovered is that the "confessions" of the prisoners upon which the White House has built its entire case for subverting the Constitution and suspending civil liberties in this country was obtained through methods such as electrocution, beating to the point of organ failure, hanging prisoners from the wrists from a ceiling, suffocation, and threats against family members ("I am going to find your mother and I am going to fuck her" is one direct quote from a US interrogator). On the missing tapes, we would likely see responses from the prisoners that would be obvious to us as confessions to anything at all in order to end the violence. In other words, if we could witness the drama of manufacturing by torture the many violently coerced "confessions" upon which the whole house of cards of this White House and its hyped "war on terror" rests, it would likely cause us to reopen every investigation, including the most serious ones (remember, even the 9/11 committee did not receive copies of the tapes); shut down the corrupt, Stalinesque Military Commissions System; turn over prisoners, the guilty and the innocent, into a working, accountable justice system operating in accordance with American values; and direct our legal scrutiny to the torturers themselves -- right up to the office of the Vice President and the President if that is where the investigations would lead.

By the way: "The prohibition against torture [in the law] is considered to be a jus cogens norm, meaning that no derogation is permitted from it under any circumstances."

This is what the FOIA documents report, belying White House soundbites that "we don't torture" and explaining the intent pursuit on the part of the CIA and the White House of the current apparent obstruction of justice:

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