No Criminal Charges In CIA Tapes Case
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
NPR's justice correspondent Carrie Johnson broke this story, and now she's here to talk about it. Hi.
CARRIE JOHNSON: Hi, Robert.
SIEGEL: And first, remind us when these tapes were made and why they were destroyed.
JOHNSON: These tapes appeared to have been made in 2002, and they captured footage of a few high-value detainees in CIA custody in black site prisons overseas. The reasons behind making these tapes remain a bit murky. All along, though, the CIA executives involved in making the tapes seemed to be uncomfortable about them. They had discussions over a three-year period about what to do with them. And finally, in November 2005, Jose Rodriquez, who was then the agency's top clandestine officer, ordered them to be destroyed.
SIEGEL: These were tapes of interrogations of - they're some people we've heard of - Abu Zubaydah is one of the people who was interrogated.
JOHNSON: Abu Zubaydah, who was a famous al-Qaida money man; and al- Nashiri, a man who's suspected of being involved in the plotting for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
SIEGEL: Now, as you understand it, after this active investigation, why weren't there any criminal charges brought for destroying tapes before the statute of limitations expired this week?
JOHNSON: And he just, it appears, couldn't prove that the tapes were destroyed for a matter of ill intent. There was no apparently criminal wrongdoing in the destruction of the tapes themselves.
SIEGEL: What is the Obama administration saying about this?
JOHNSON: However, Jose Rodriquez's defense lawyer, Bob Bennett, told me this afternoon that Jose Rodriquez is a real patriot and he never broke the law.
SIEGEL: But there are things - at least it's been reported - there are things that were captured in these destroyed videotapes that were very disturbing, if not plainly illegal.
JOHNSON: The Justice Department has said it will not prosecute CIA operatives who acted within the bounds of the law. But if they violated those laws, they still could face criminal jeopardy.
SIEGEL: So the investigation of what was being videotaped may still be going on. The actual destruction of the videotapes is what is now at an end.
JOHNSON: That's exactly right. And that investigation into what was being videotaped could take some period of time because we do know the special prosecutor in this case, John Durham, is an exceedingly cautious man.
SIEGEL: Thank you, Carrie.
JOHNSON: Thank you, Robert.
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