Jose Rodriguez’ Idea of “Ugly Visuals”: Blank and Altered Tapes

Jose Rodriguez, not exactly a squeamish guy, is spreading a myth that the reason he destroyed the torture tapes was because the torture depicted on them was so bad that people would kill CIA officers in response to the violence

Especially after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, Rodriguez writes, if the CIA’s videos were to leak out, officers worldwide would be in danger.

“I wasn’t going to sit around another three years waiting for people to get up the courage,” to do what CIA lawyers said he had the authority to do himself, Rodriguez writes. He describes sending the order in November 2005 as “just getting rid of some ugly visuals.”

Except there’s a problem with that claim.

The problem with the torture tapes is not what they showed, but what they didn’t show. Such as the two separate waterboarding sessions that were, for some reason, not captured on tape at all.

OIG found 11 interrogation tapes to be blank. Two others were blank except for one or two minutes of recording. Two others were broken and could not be reviewed. OIG compared the videotapes to logs and cables and identified a 21-hour period of time” which included two waterboard sessions” that was not captured on the videotapes.

Or the way many of the tapes showed some sign of tampering that hid their content.

[Redacted] for many of the tapes one 1/2 or 3/4 of the tape “there was nothing.” [Redacted] on some tapes it was apparent that the VCR had been turned off and then turned back on right away. [Redacted] on other tapes the video quality was poor and on others the tape had been reused (taped over) or not recorded at all. [Redacted] The label on some tapes read “interrogation session,” but when viewed there was just snow. [Redaction] did not make note of this in [redaction] report. [Redaction] estimated that “half a dozen” videotapes had been taped over or were “snowy.”

In other words, the tapes probably didn’t show the worst torture sessions. On the contrary, the tapes were enduring proof that the torturers tampered with the tapes to make sure they didn’t show the torture sessions.

Apparently, Jose Rodriguez thinks a bunch of snowy taped over tapes–proof that the torturers covered up evidence of what they did–constitutes “ugly visuals.” And I guess it does, but not in the way he’s claiming in his book.

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8 Responses to Jose Rodriguez’ Idea of “Ugly Visuals”: Blank and Altered Tapes

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel This is really interesting language consider vastly different definitions adopted in other contexts. @kurtopsahl
emptywheel RT @saftergood: CRS today: What does the latest ruling on NSA telephone metadata program mean?
emptywheel @taylormattd Just yesterday she was engaged in civil disobedience. Today she's a Jew targeted under the Holocaust?
emptywheel @JakeLaperruque Right. I was jumping through those two steps when I mentioned drug dealers.
emptywheel Which is the majority of known uses among DOJ agencies.
emptywheel @JakeLaperruque Cause it's not like they'd EVER use Stingrays against drug dea--oh wait. That's most of how they use it. Nevermind.
emptywheel RT @NateWessler: ACLU statement about new DOJ policy on Stingrays:
emptywheel @ddRigmaiden And some visual surveillance? @csoghoian @normative
emptywheel @JakeLaperruque And apply it at locality and for NatSec uses.
emptywheel @csoghoian Now you've birthed an army of researchers. Where are you going to sic them next? @normative @ddRigmaiden
emptywheel @lib_ertarian_ No. It's real. It just has the predictable limits.
emptywheel Oops. Knew it. New policy doesn't actually apply to Nat Sec uses.
April 2012
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