Thursday, December 06, 2007

More Evidence of Obstruction of Justice in 9/11 Investigation

By now you've heard that the CIA destroyed videotapes of interrogations of alleged Al Qaeda members. The interesting part of this story is that the 9/11 Commission claimed that it obtained most of its information about the attacks from these interrogations (and then only indirectly as reported by the military to the Commission; the Commission never met the alleged detainees, was not allowed to submit questions to them directly, nor was it allowed to question the alleged interrogators to assess their credibility).

The New York Times confirms that the government swore that it had turned over all of the relevant material regarding the statements of the people being interrogated:

“The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission ....

“No tapes were acknowledged or turned over, nor was the commission provided with any transcript prepared from recordings,” he said.

But is the destruction of the tapes -- and hiding from the 9/11 Commission the fact that the tapes existed -- a big deal? Yes, actually. As the Times goes on to state:
Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.

If tapes were destroyed, he said, “it’s a big deal, it’s a very big deal,” because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.

Indeed, 9/11 Commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton says:
"Did they obstruct our inquiry? The answer is clearly yes," says Lee Hamilton, who co-chaired the 9/11 Commission, in the wake of reports the CIA destroyed videotapes of interrogations of two al-Qaida suspects. "Whether that amounts to a crime, others will have to judge," adds Hamilton.
And co-chairman Thomas Keane said “I’m upset that they didn’t tell us the truth.”

This isn't the first evidence of obstruction of justice by the government regarding the 9/11 investigations. For example:

Indeed, there are even indications that false evidence may have been planted to deflect attention from the real perpetrators.

Of course, even had the government told the truth to the 9/11 Commission, the Commission was set up as a whitewash anyway.


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