Why Were The Tapes Destroyed?
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
February 2, 2008
Many Americans are content with the 9/11 Commission Report,
but the two chairmen of the commission,
Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton are not.
Neither was commission member Max Cleland,
a US Senator who resigned from the 9/11 Commission,
telling the Boston Globe
(November 13, 2003): “This investigation is now compromised.”
Even former FBI director Louis Freeh wrote
in the Wall Street Journal
(November 17, 2005)
that there are inaccuracies in the commission’s report and
“questions that need answers.”
Both Kean and Hamilton have twice stated publicly,
once in their 2006 book,
'Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission,'
and again in
(January 2, 2008),
the New York Times,
that there are inaccuracies in their report
and unanswered -- or mis-answered -- questions.
On the second day of this new year, Kean and Hamilton
accused the CIA of obstructing their investigation:
“What we do know is that government officials decided
not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by
Congress and the President, to investigate one of the
greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.”
In their book, Kean and Hamilton wrote that they were unable to obtain
“access to star witnesses in custody who were
the only possible source for inside information about the 9/11 plot.”
The only information the commission was permitted to have
about what was learned from interrogations of alleged plot ringleaders,
such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,
came from “thirdhand” sources.
The commission was not permitted
to question the alleged plotters in custody
or even to meet with those who interrogated the alleged plotters.
Consequently, write Kean and Hamilton,
“We had no way of evaluating the credibility of detainee information”
that was fed to them by third party hands.
“How could we tell if someone such as
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was telling us the truth?”
The fact that video tapes of the interrogations existed
was kept secret from the 9/11 Commission.
The video tapes have since been destroyed.
The destruction of the videos has become an issue
because of White House involvement in the decision to destroy the tapes
and because the videos are believed to have been destroyed
because they reveal methods of torture that
the Bush administration denies using.
According to President Bush, the US does not practice torture
even though he and his Department of Justice (sic)
assert the right to torture.
Is the torture issue a red herring?
The 9/11 Commission was not tasked with investigating
interrogation methods or detainee treatment.
The commission was tasked with investigating
al Qaeda’s participation in the 9/11 attack and
determining the perpetrators of the terrorist event.
There was no reason to withhold from the commission
video evidence of confessions implicating
al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Was the video evidence withheld from the 9/11 Commission
because the alleged participants in the plot did not confess,
did not implicate al Qaeda, and did not implicate bin Laden?
Does anyone seriously believe that evidence of confession
would not have been revealed --
evidence that could have foreclosed what has become
a massive industry of 9/11 truth seekers
involving large numbers of highly credible persons?
There is no reason for the Bush administration to fear the torture issue.
The Justice Department’s memos have legalized the practice,
and Congress has passed legislation, signed by President Bush,
giving retroactive protection to US interrogators who tortured detainees.
The Military Commissions Act,
passed in September 2006
and signed by Bush in October 2006,
strips detainees of protections provided by
the Geneva Conventions:
“No alien unlawful enemy combatant subject to trial by
military commission under this chapter may invoke the
Geneva Conventions as a source of rights.”
Other provisions of the act strip detainees of speedy trials
and of protection against torture and self-incrimination.
The law has a provision that retroactively protects torturers
against prosecution for war crimes.
Did the Bush administration cleverly take advantage
of the torture claims in order to spin
the destruction of the CIA video tapes as a “torture story.”
It is much more likely that the tapes were destroyed
because they reveal the absence of confession to the plot.
As Kean and Hamilton ask, without evidence how do we know the truth?
All we have is the word of the administration that told us
Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that,
while sitting on a NIE report
[National Intelligence Estimate on Iran]
that Iran had terminated its weapons program in 2003,
told us that Iran had an ongoing nuclear weapons program
and was close to having a nuclear weapon.
What about the bin Laden video tape
in which he takes credit for the 9/11 attack?
Every indication is that the tape is a fake.
The bin Laden in the November 9, 2001, “confession video”
looks nothing like the bin Laden
in the last confirmed video of December, 2001.
Recently, the Italian newspaper, Corriere Della Sera,
that the former president of Italy, Francesco Cossiga,
said that Italian intelligence had concluded that
the bin Laden confession video was a fake.
William Arkin in the online Washington Post, February 1, 1999,
described a voice-morphing technology
developed at the government’s Los Alamos laboratory.
Arkin reported that digital morphing, including appearance,
“has come of age, available for use in psychological operations.”
Investigative reporter Kristina Borjesson reminds us that
“six days after 9/11, CNN reported that bin Laden had sent
a statement to Al Jazeera denying that he had been involved.”
She also reminds us that the FBI says it has no hard evidence
that bin Laden was responsible for 9/11.
The FBI wants Osama for the 1998 bombings of US embassies
in Tanzania and Kenya, not for 9/11.
that in the “confession video”
bin Laden is revealed writing with his right hand,
but is known to be left-handed.
If the bin Laden “confession video” is indeed a fake,
as it appears to be, why run the risk of creating such a video
if the CIA has on video tape the confessions of
the alleged al Qaeda participants in the 9/11 plot?
Why destroy such evidence, especially when
torture has been given a green light by the DOJ and US Congress?
Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration. He is a former university professor and associate editor of
the Wall Street Journal.