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Federal judge weighs inquiry into CIA destruction of interrogation videos

[JURIST] US District Judge Henry H. Kennedy on Friday considered the merits of opening a judicial inquiry into whether the CIA's destruction of videotapes showing the interrogation of terror suspects [JURIST news archive] violated a 2005 court order. During a hearing [JURIST report] to consider an emergency motion [PDF text; JURIST report] filed on behalf of several Guantanamo Bay detainees, government lawyers urged Kennedy to delay any inquiry until the Justice Department can complete its own investigation into the matter. Kennedy has been asked to look into the tapes' destruction in light of his June 2005 order in Abdah v. Bush where Kennedy directed the government to "preserve and maintain all evidence and information regarding the torture, mistreatment, and abuse of detainees now at the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." David Remes argued on behalf of the detainees that the inquiry is necessary to determine whether other evidence was destroyed, but government representative Joseph Hunt argued that a judicial inquiry would hinder the DOJ's investigation. Hunt said that the joint DOJ-CIA preliminary investigation [DOJ letter; JURIST report] will include an examination of whether any court orders were violated. AP has more.

Existence of the videotapes was verified in November after the CIA admitted it had mistakenly denied [JURIST report] that it had recorded interrogations in a court declaration during the trial of 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged [statement text] earlier this month that the CIA had videotaped the interrogation of two al Qaeda suspects in 2002, but said that the tapes had been destroyed in 2005 amid concerns that they could be leaked to the public and compromise the identities of the interrogators. In addition to the DOJ-CIA investigation, multiple congressional inquiries have been launched into the tapes' destruction.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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