Feds Tried To Destroy All Evidence Of Memo Saying They Were Committing War Crimes With Torture

from the transparency dept

Spencer Ackerman, over at Wired, recently had a fascinating article about how the a former Bush official had written a memo detailing how the CIA had committed war crimes in torturing Al Qaeda suspects, in violation of the Geneva conventions. Wired has the full memo, but here's the first page:
No matter what you think of the US's actions in how it treated prisoners and suspects, what struck me about the story is just how hard the feds worked not to release this document. The guy who wrote the memo, Philip Zelikow, revealed the existence of the memo three years ago in a blog post, leading Ackerman to file a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover it. Later, in a Senate hearing, Zelikow explained how higher ups in the administration had decided "the memo was not considered appropriate for further discussion and that copies of my memo should be collected and destroyed." Of course, what wasn't destroyed was some legally questionable arguments in favor of these "enhanced interrogation techniques."

It turns out, however, at least one copy of Zelikow's letter survived -- but even then it took almost three years from the first FOIA request until it was actually released. This was also years after the memos insisting that the activities were legal were released. For a government that keeps wanting to insist that it's being as transparent as possible, and one where political calculus is not supposed to weigh on decisions like this, it seems pretty clear that the feds were quite careful to try to hide internal reports that argue (persuasively, and with great detail) against its legal theory, but happy to reveal the much more questionable documents that support its position. This is not surprising, but it is disappointing. An intellectually honest federal government is willing to openly discuss dissenting viewpoints.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    weneedhelp (profile), 12 Apr 2012 @ 8:09am

    Re: Torture

    Osama bin Laden, a wealthy man, left Saudi Arabia in 1979 to join American-sponsored so-called freedom fighters in Afghanistan. He received financial assistance, weapons and training from our CIA, just as his allies in Kosovo continue to receive the same from us today.

    It is during this time that bin Laden learned to practice terror – tragically, with money from the US taxpayers. But it wasn’t until 1991, during what we refer to as the Persian Gulf War, that he turned fully against the United States. It was this war, said to protect our oil, that brought out the worst in him

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.