US lawmakers and rights advocates question CIA tape destruction

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US lawmakers and rights advocates question CIA tape destruction

By | March 26, 2019

Saturday, December 8, 2007

U.S. Congressional Democrats are asking the Justice Department to investigate whether the CIA’s destruction of videotapes documenting the interrogation of terrorism suspects amounts to obstruction of justice.

The acknowledgement by Central Intelligence Agency Director Michael Hayden that his agency destroyed the interrogation videotapes in 2005 sparked a firestorm of criticism among Congressional Democrats. They suggested the tapes could have provided key evidence in ongoing trials brought by terrorism suspects who are alleging they were tortured.

Senator Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, said, “What would cause the CIA to take this action? The answer is obvious – cover up. The agency was desperate to cover up damning evidence of their practices.”

Human Rights Watch’s Senior Counterterrorism Counsel commented to Google news saying, “The CIA was well aware that its interrogations crossed a line considered by many to be torture. Now some in the CIA may also be guilty of obstruction of justice as well – a serious felony that carries a possible 20 year sentence. There needs to be a serious criminal investigation, and those who have committed crimes should be prosecuted and convicted.”

The Democratic chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are vowing to investigate, and other Democrats are calling on the Justice Department to do the same.

“You cannot destroy material if there is an ongoing investigation. There is a law against it,” said Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino said President Bush only learned of the matter two days ago, after he was briefed by CIA Director Hayden.

“He has no recollection of being made aware of the tapes or their destruction before yesterday,” said Perino.

Perino defended the CIA interrogation program as legal and critical to national security. She said President Bush supports General Hayden’s explanation that the tapes were destroyed to protect the identities of the interrogators.

But the Senate’s number two Democrat, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, rejected that argument:

“The defence of the CIA is that they wanted to protect the identity of those CIA employees who were engaged in the interrogation,” said Durbin. “Mr. [Senate] President, that is not a credible defence. We know that it is possible, in fact, easy, to cover the identity and faces of those who were involved in any videotape. Something more was involved here.”

The tapes, which documented the use of tough interrogation techniques against key terror suspects in 2002, were destroyed three years later, at a time when there was increasing pressure from defence lawyers to obtain videotapes of detainee interrogations and as Congress had been probing allegations of torture.

The Bush administration has maintained it does not use torture, but refuses to say what techniques are used by intelligence agencies in interrogations of terror suspects.

Delhi rocked by bomb blasts

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Delhi rocked by bomb blasts

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

At least five bombs exploded in crowded markets and streets in the heart of India’s capital New Delhi on Saturday killing 30 while injuring more than 100 people. The blasts at Ghaffar market in Karol Bagh, at Connaught Place and Greater Kailash took place in a quick succession.

The challenge posed by terrorism and communalism would be fought tooth and nail.

In an e-mail sent to a local television news channel, a group claiming to be the Indian Mujahideen, appeared to take responsibility for the explosions.

“In the name of Allah, the Indian Mujahideen has struck back again. Do whatever you want. Stop us if you can,” the e-mail said. The station says it received the e-mail before the explosions occurred.

Indian Mujahideen, a militant Islamist group, have claimed the responsibility of several attacks against civilian targets in India, claimed responsibility for the 2008 Delhi bombings through an e-mail sent to Indian media, which were all triggered within a 45-minute period. More than 400 people have died since October 2005 in bomb attacks on Indian cities such as Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

The first explosion rocked Gaffar market area of Karol Bagh in central Delhi at 18:15 (IST) in which at least 20 people were injured. The explosive was kept near a Maruti car, and resulted in a cylinder blast in an auto rickshaw, which was subsequently thrown up several feet into the air.

Immediately after, two explosions took place in Rajeev Chowk in which at least 10 people were injured. Police and witnesses said that went off in dustbins in and around Rajeev Chowk, a shopping and dining area popular with tourists and locals in the centre of the city. The first of these blasts occurred on Barakhamba Road, near Nirmal Tower and Gopal Das Bhavan. The second bomb exploded in the newly constructed Central Park in the centre of the Rajeev Chowk roundabout, built above one of the main stations of the Delhi Metro. An eyewitness reportedly saw two men place the bomb in a dustbin at Central Park.

Two explosions rocked M-Block market in Greater Kailash-I at about 18:40 (IST), the first near the popular Prince Paan Corner, and the other near a Levi’s store. The latter damaged 10 shops.

Relief activities have been started while security has been put on high alert across the country following the deadly blasts in the Indian capital.

  • President, Asif Ali Zardari, “strongly condemned” the bomb attacks, expressing “shock and grief over the loss of precious human lives”.
  • Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani, said the bombers were “enemies of humanity”.
  • Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shehrbano Rehman, condemned the serial blasts in New Delhi in strongest terms by saying that they were a “barbaric act of cowardice”, and that the elements involved in this act were enemies of humanity.
  • Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw, conveyed his deepest sympathies to the victims and the families of those affected. Straw, who was on a visit to India during this time, added that the British Government condemns all acts of terrorism, and hoped to work together with the Indian government to tackle terrorism.