We now know that Harriet Miers apparently knew about the torture tape destruction, though she counseled against it. And we know who–purportedly–ordered their destruction: Jose Rodriguez, then Deputy Director of CIA for Clandestine Operations. But you know what we don’t yet know?
The identity of the second top Al Qaeda figure whose torture tapes were destroyed. Update: now we do: from the NYT,
(h/t rfw) Which, since it’s coming from a reliable journalist (Lichtblau) I guess means the rest of this bloviating is pointless.
I’m going to make a wild-arsed guess the second detainee was Ramzi bin al-Shibh.
I say that, first of all, because the destruction of the tapes almost certainly was obstruction of justice for Moussaoui. ABC confirms that the tapes were destroyed in November 2005.
In 2002, the CIA videotaped the interrogations of two terror suspects, including top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. The tapes showed what the CIA calls "enhanced interrogation techniques," methods which critics call torture.
In February 2003, the CIA says it told the leaders of congressional intelligence committees about the tapes and that it planned to destroy them.
On Nov. 2, 2005, the Washington Post detailed the CIA’s secret prison program known as "black sites." It was November 2005 that the CIA destroyed the tapes. [my emphasis]
If it was November, it pretty much had to be obstruction of justice in Moussaoui’s case, because odds are very high they destroyed the tapes after Leonie Brinkema inquired whether the government had any tapes from the Al Qaeda detainees. From my timeline:
November 1, 2005: Dana Priest reveals the use of black sites in Europe.
November 3, 2005: Brinkema inquires whether govt has video or audio tapes of interrogations.
November 14, 2005: Govt tells Brinkema it has no audio or video tapes.
In other words, there were only two days in November when they could have destroyed the tapes without it being clear obstruction of justice. Frankly, the only way they could have told the truth on the 14th is if they had already destroyed the tapes. And as good as Priest’s article was, I just don’t think that was enough to lead to the destruction of the tapes.
Now look at these earlier data points from the timeine:
January 2003: Leonie Brinkema grants Moussaoui right to interview Ramzi Bin-al-Shibh by video.