TPMM has a copy of Jane Harman’s letter to then CIA General Counsel Scott Muller and his reply (h/t BayStateLiberal). As Paul Kiel notes, Muller blows off Harman’s warning not to dispose of the Zubaydah tape.
You discussed the fact that there is videotape of Abu Zubaydah following his capture that will be destroyed after the Inspector General finishes his inquiry. I would urge the Agency to reconsider that plan. Even if the videotape does not constitute an official record that must be preserved under the law, the videotape would be the best proof that the written record is accurate, if such record is called into question in the future. The fact of destruction would reflect badly on the Agency.
Muller simply doesn’t acknowledge her advice in his return letter.
But even without a response, Harman’s advice is instructive. It reveals that–at least in February 2003–CIA premised the destruction of the torture tapes on the completion of Helgerson’s IG inquiry into interrogation methods. That confirms my earlier suspicions that the torture tapes were intimately connected with the IG inquiry–and makes the May 2004 White House discussion of whether or not to destroy the tapes all the more damning. After all, they can’t very well deny that the IG reported that the tapes showed methods that may have been illegal if they claimed the torture tape destruction tied to the inquiry itself? So once the report came out, they would be bound to keep the tapes since they would have verified or refuted the IG report.
Also note, Harman mentions only Zubaydah, not al-Nashiri. Did Muller just neglect to mention the latter AQ detainee? Or are we getting a somewhat fickle depiction of what tapes were kept?
Just as interesting is the partial blow-off that Muller gives Harman on the issue of the policy wisdom of torturing detainees, as distinct from the legal implications. She asks, Read more