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Federal judge tells CIA to investigate destruction of interrogation tapes

A federal judge on Friday told the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] that it must investigate the destruction of interrogation tapes [AP report] related to 9/11 [JURIST news archive] and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] made the statement while considering a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] seeking to have the CIA found in contempt of court [AP report] for destroying the tapes. After the judge spoke, Assistant US Attorney Tara LaMorte said that the government prosecutor who investigated the incident was willing to meet with the judge to discuss his findings. Hellerstein agreed to meet with the prosecutor and said he would make as much of the meeting public as possible.

Internal CIA documents [part 1, PDF; part 2, PDF; part 3, PDF] released last April reveal that the former head of the agency Porter Goss may have agreed to the destruction [JURIST report] of videotapes [JURIST news archive] showing harsh interrogations of terror suspects. According to redacted documents [text, PDF] filed in March 2009, 12 of 92 videotapes destroyed by the CIA [JURIST report] contained evidence of "enhanced interrogation techniques." The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] had acknowledged in March 2009 that the CIA destroyed [letter, PDF] 92 videotapes of high value terrorism suspect interrogations, in response to an August 2008 judicial order [text, PDF] that the CIA turn over information regarding the tapes or provide specific justifications on why it could not release the information. The August 2008 order came in response to a December 2007 ACLU motion [text, PDF] that the CIA be held in contempt of court for not providing information on the tapes during a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] lawsuit [ACLU materials] brought by the organization in an effort to access government materials on the interrogations.

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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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