Why did the CIA choose
to videotape its interrogations of the first Al Qaeda detainees?
The short answer provided by The New York Times piece
this weekend, based on "interviews with two dozen current and former officials," proves misleading. And there are a host of competing theories to sort through. But in the end, itÂ´s really not so complicated.
The story's straightforward headline, "Tapes by C.I.A. Lived and Died to Save Image," is based on the idea that the videotaping was "prompted in part by worry about how [the agencyÂ´s interrogation methods] might be perceived â by Congress, by prosecutors, by the American public and by Muslims worldwide," as the Times
puts it. According to this theory, the CIA was trying to cover its ass by showing that it was keeping to authorized techniques. That same fear was behind the drive to destroy the tapes.
But the bulk of the reporting of the piece tends towards a very different interpretation. There were plenty of reasons to want to videotape the interrogations, and one simple reason to want them destroyed. Buzzy Krongard (yep, that Buzzy
) -- one of the very few CIA officials who spoke to the Times
on the record -- puts it best:
âYou couldnât have more than one or two analysts in the room,â said A. B. Krongard, the C.I.A.âs No. 3 official at the time the interrogations were taped. âYou want people with spectacular language skills to watch the tapes. You want your top Al Qaeda experts to watch the tapes. You want psychologists to watch the tapes. You want interrogators in training to watch the tapes.â
Given such advantages, why was the taping stopped by the end of 2002, less than a year after it started?
âBy that time,â Mr. Krongard said, âparanoia was setting in.â
Sounds pretty simple to me.