CIA Achieves a Whole New Scale of Torture Evidence Destruction

I once made a list of all the evidence of torture the CIA or others in the Executive Branch destroyed.

I thought it time to start cataloging them, to keep them all straight.

  • Before May 2003: 15 of 92 torture tapes erased or damaged
  • Early 2003: Dunlavey’s paper trail “lost”
  • Before August 2004: John Yoo and Patrick Philbin’s torture memo emails deleted
  • June 2005: most copies of Philip Zelikow’s dissent to the May 2005 CAT memo destroyed
  • November 8-9, 2005: 92 torture tapes destroyed
  • July 2007 (probably): 10 documents from OLC SCIF disappear
  • December 19, 2007: Fire breaks out in Cheney’s office

(I put in the Cheney fire because it happened right after DOJ started investigating the torture tape destruction.)

Since that time, there have been at least two more:

  • CIA stealing back copies of cables implicating the President from SSCI servers
  • Someone modifying one of the black sites at which the 9/11 defendants were tortured, with Gitmo approval

But apparently, last summer, CIA’s Inspector General destroyed something else: both his disk-based and server based copies of the Torture Report.

But last August, a chagrined Christopher R. Sharpley, the CIA’s acting inspector general, alerted the Senate intelligence panel that his office’s copy of the report had vanished. According to sources familiar with Sharpley’s account, he explained it this way: When it received its disk, the inspector general’s office uploaded the contents onto its internal classified computer system and destroyed the disk in what Sharpley described as “the normal course of business.” Meanwhile someone in the IG office interpreted the Justice Department’s instructions not to open the file to mean it should be deleted from the server — so that both the original and the copy were gone.

At some point, it is not clear when, after being informed by CIA general counsel Caroline Krass that the Justice Department wanted all copies of the document preserved, officials in the inspector general’s office undertook a search to find its copy of the report. They discovered, “S***, we don’t have one,” said one of the sources briefed on Sharpley’s account.

Sharpley was apologetic about the destruction and promised to ask CIA director Brennan for another copy. But as of last week, he seems not to have received it; after Yahoo News began asking about the matter, he called intelligence committee staffers to ask if he could get a new copy from them.

Sharpley also told Senate committee aides he had reported the destruction of the disk to the CIA’s general counsel’s office, and Krass passed that information along to the Justice Department. But there is no record in court filings that department lawyers ever informed the judge overseeing the case that the inspector general’s office had destroyed its copy of the report.

Two key parts of this story: Sharpley appears to have no idea who decided to nuke the report off the IG server. Hmmmm.

And DOJ has been suppressing this detail in filings in the FOIAs for the Torture Report itself (which may be what led Dianne Feinstein to make an issue of it last week).

Click through if you want a really depressing list of all the ways Richard Burr is trying to disappear the report.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the entire report got disappeared. But destroying the whole thing is rather impressive.

Update: Katherine Hawkins reminds of of another one: the hood Manadel al-Jamadi wore when he suffocated to death while being tortured disappeared under circumstances the CIA IG considered non-credible.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. What Constitution? says:

    What “torture report”? Never heard of it. Good grist for a cutting edge TV recruiting commercial, though: “Join the CIA and shape the future — [cut to Senate committee hearing, witness testifying] ‘This is not the torture report you’re looking for’ [wave of hand].”

    • martin says:

      quote”Good grist for a cutting edge TV recruiting commercial, though: …”unquote

      I submit the Framers would spit in your face. NO, what this is, is the foundation for exactly what these words mean…..

      “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

      Of course, this country is a land of mostly fucking cowards who really, really..don’t give a flying fuck.

  2. P J Evans says:

    That sounds like it might be criminally chargeable. Not that that’s going to happen, and if it did, the victim would be someone at the bottom of the power scale, who was told what to do by someone who’s in the immune levels.

    • Peterr says:

      The IG’s office will be looking into charges, and I’m sure they will release a nice “nothing to see here” memo on January 19, 2017.

  3. martin says:

    quote”I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the entire report got disappeared. But destroying the whole thing is rather impressive.”unquote

    No, what is impressive is, the breadth of collusion between the Executive, the DOJ, FBI, DEA Congressional IC committee turds like Burr, the CIA and any other agency that received a copy, and then complied with Burr’s “order” not to open the report lest it become government records, and to return it to Burr so he can disappear them permanently…..in order to forever bury the names of those war criminals to prevent any future prosecution attempts, and to protect the United States Government from any and all legal remedies any victims might think of seeking.
    In other words, a VAST CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY BY THE ENTIRE USG, TO KEEP PROOF OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY PERPETRATED BY THE USG, FROM EVER SEEING THE LIGHT OF DAY, AND TO REMOVE THE STENCH OF IT’S CRIMINAL ACTS FROM THE HISTORICAL RECORD.

    IF, there is one thing to be learned here.. this government has LOST IT’S MANDATE OF HEAVEN…and it’s stature in the world as a leader in human rights. Moreover, this episode in our nations history, is living proof, the USG no longer operates under the RULE OF LAW. In fact…it MOCKS IT. And finally, if the perpetrators of this criminal act are allowed to escape prosecution by virtue of the COWARDICE of those mandated with the power to do so, this country is no longer worth saving, or pledging allegiance to. As for me…I SPIT IN IT’S FACE.

    • bevin says:

      “… what is impressive is, the breadth of collusion between the Executive, the DOJ, FBI, DEA Congressional IC committee turds like Burr, the CIA and any other agency that received a copy, and then complied with Burr’s “order” not to open the report lest it become government records…”
      What is really impressive is the way in which not a single copy has fallen into the hands of a paper that would publish it.
      In a couple of years they are going to be burying the last newspapers in north America and when they do, the industry’s performance in its last couple of decades will be a ready made explanation of its demise.
      This is not to suggest for a moment that President A Mitchell O’Palmer hasn’t played his part in separating the citizen from information about what is being done in her name.

      • martin says:

        quote”This is not to suggest for a moment that President A Mitchell O’Palmer hasn’t played his part in separating the citizen from information about what is being done in her name.”unquote

        Oh of course not. I mean.. who out here in the heartland of dumbfuckery ever heard of President A Mitchell O’Palmer? So…please forgive us dumbfucks who can’t grasp what the fuck you are talking about. Meanwhile.. WTF are you talking about?

      • martin says:

        quote”What is really impressive is the way in which not a single copy has fallen into the hands of a paper that would publish it.”unquote

        Paper? umm,…you mean like the NYT’s ..or Wapo? If so..hahahahahaha!

        First off ..if ANY whistleblower in a position to disclose this document..could… he would be the most soughtafter enemy of the State in history..even beyond Snowden. I would hope you understand why. If not..well..it doesn’t matter.

  4. Peterr says:

    Once more, I am struck by the skill with which folks try to avoid responsibility and holding people accountable.
    .
    “When it received its disk, the inspector general’s office uploaded the contents onto its internal classified computer system and destroyed the disk . . .” — Uh, no. A certain person in the IG office did this. A very specific person with a name and a job title and job responsibilities.
    .
    “Meanwhile, someone in the IG office interpreted the Justice Department’s instructions not to open the file to mean it should be deleted from the server . . .” — You’re getting closer. What, pray tell, would this someone’s name be?
    .
    And why in God’s name are people like these working in an IG office? If they can’t handle information that has been delivered into their hands, how in the world can then pry information loose from elsewhere in the agency?
    .
    Sounds like a feature, not a bug. “We’ve got a crack team running the IG office, to make sure everything we do is on the up-and-up.”
    .
    Right.

  5. GKJames says:

    A couple of ways to look at this: One, obviously, is that, like all criminal enterprises, this one’s covered by the rule of omertà (though fiendishly clever is the extensive, if incoherent, babbling as camouflage). The other, just as likely, is that these people’s incompetence in keeping track of their stuff matches their much larger incompetence in understanding the world and helping US policy makers craft a realistic role in it. As for the lawyers in the equation, the only cure is someone in a black dress with enough guts to pull tickets.

    • martin says:

      quote”As for the lawyers in the equation, the only cure is someone in a black dress with enough guts to pull tickets.”unquote
      Notwithstanding the rest of your babble… please decipher WTF you are trying to say here. Otherwise, you sound like you need to take your meds and get a good nights sleep.

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