As I said the other day, most of the documents we received the other day are the 13 or so documents that CIA had cleared for FOIA release, but over which John Durham had declared a law enforcement privilege. This chart compares what we got with what had been declared in Vaughn Indices in November (this showed the hard copy documents explaining the destruction of the torture tapes) and January (this showed the electronic documents discussing the destruction of the torture tapes; there are 6 files total to this index). While this doesn’t show us everything John Durham is looking at (presumably, there are a number of documents that are too sensitive to release), looking at the documents from this perspective gives us a sense of what Durham is investigating.
As you’ll see from the chart, I have numbered the documents from 1 to 27. I just assigned them in the order the documents appear in the complete PDF file. I’ll also refer to the PDF number for each document.
The Documents Not on Durham’s List
First, assuming I matched the documents up to the Vaughn descriptions properly, there are four documents that were not on Durham’s list:
- Document 9, January 9, 2003, Review of Interrogation Videotapes (PDF 24-28)
- Document 11, June 18, 2003, Interview Report (PDF 33-37)
- Document 22, December 3, 2007, Potential Statement (PDF 86-93)
- Document 23, December 10, 2007, Trip Report (PDF 95-99)
I believe these documents all did appear elsewhere in the earlier FOIAs on this (I’m going to try to find the Vaughn descriptions later), but presumably CIA had earlier said it could not release them, which meant it was that decision, rather than Durham’s determination, that had prevented their earlier release.
Most of these documents (except the questions) pertain to the CIA Office of General Counsel review of the torture tape, and the Inspector General’s subsequent discovery that the original review had neglected to mention key details about blank tapes and discrepancies between what was portrayed in the video and what OLC authorized. Curiously, their release seems to be tied to the events reported by the WaPo, in which John McPherson, reportedly the lawyer who conducted that review, was given immunity to testify before the grand jury in the last month or so. In other words, now that McPherson has testified about this stuff, CIA has decided to release the details of his review publicly. I have included the documents in the timeline below.
Update: I’ve added in some of the dates reflected in the Vaughn Indices that I think flesh out this timeline. Those dates will not be bolded.
The Chronology on the Tapes
Many of the rest of these documents pertain to the correspondence regarding videotapes. The chronology they show is:
April 13, 2002: Interrogators start videotaping interrogations.
April 17, 2002: Two page Top Secret cable providing guidance on the retention of video tapes.
April 27, 2002: A letter directing the tapes “should all be catalogued and made into official record copies” and asking when they would “arrive here.” (Document 1; PDF 1)
May 6, 2002: Someone sends a cable providing guidance to “please do not tape over or edit videos of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogations” and “please preserve all videos.” Note, we don’t get the original copy of this, but it appears in an email forwarding the cable to Scott Muller and John Rizzo in January 2003. (Document 10; PDF )
September 5, 2002: According to October 25, 2002 cable (see below), “HQS elements discussed the disposition of the videotapes” and determined that “the continued retention of these tapes … represents a serious security risk.” (Documents 2 and 3; PDF 3-7)
September 6, 2002: Two emails: A five-page email between CIA attorneys regarding a draft of a cable discussing the disposition of the video tapes, and a one-page email between CIA attorneys on the revisions of a draft cable regarding the disposition of the video tapes.
October 25, 2002: Cable directing field to tape over tapes each day and promising someone will deploy to assist in destroying the existing tapes. (Document 2, Document 3; PDF 3-7)
October 27, 2002: Some excerpts the October 25 cable and another one (which is entirely redacted) into a one-page summary. Note that both prior cables were classified Secret, but this summary is classified Top Secret. (Document 4; PDF 9)
November 28, 2002: It appears this cable was included among those collected in Document 12 some time after the tape destruction. But what we got in FOIA cuts off the cable (and entirely redacts what is there). (PDF 39-50) Note that the November 11, 2009 Vaughn Index described document 12 as a 13 page document, but we’ve only got 12 pages.
November 30, 2003: John McPherson reviews the torture tapes. This is noted in an undated timeline of the facts surrounding the torture tape destruction. (Document 25; PDF 103-104)
December 1, 2002: A two-page email that discusses the notes of a CIA attorney.
December 3, 2002: After McPherson reviewed the videotapes on November 30, someone sent out a cable stating that it was a mistake to move the videotapes, and ordering that “no tapes will be destroyed until specific authorization is sent.” Documents 5, 6, and 7 all appear to be identical copies of this cable, save for routing information that is redacted; the routing on Document 6 is very long. (PDF 11-18)
December 3, 2002: A one-page email outlining the destruction plan for video tapes.