Usually, what nails you in Washington malfeasance is the cover-up, not the crime. With the revelation that the CIA in 2005 destroyed videotapes of interrogations of senior al-Qaeda detainees, it'll be both.
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Start with the facts as they're currently understood. In 2002, the CIA videotaped interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, the chief of al-Qaeda's military committee, and an as-yet-unknown colleague. (My guess is that Detainee #2 is Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who, following his capture that September in Pakistan, was the second most important detainee then in custody.) During that time, the tapes remained a closely-held secret, despite requests for information on interrogations from the 9/11 Commission, a 2002 joint Congressional inquiry into 9/11, and Judge Leonie Brinkema, who presided over the Zacharias Moussaoui trial. In 2005, then operations chief Jose Rodriguez ordered the tapes destroyed, without disclosing their existence to anyone who didn't already know. This week, The New York Times prepared a story about the tapes. To get out in front of it, Director Michael Hayden released a statement about both the tapes and their destruction.
Hayden makes not a single plausible claim about the tapes and why they were destroyed. He said in an internal message to CIA employees that the release of the tapes -- whether to the judge or to the inquiries or to, ultimately, the press -- would have allowed al-Qaeda to identify CIA interrogators and then target them for retribution. The appropriate response to that is: LOL. The CIA has the capacity to move its operatives around the world, including to places where there aren't any al-Qaeda "assassins" -- like, say, northern Virginia. To say otherwise, as Hayden does, is to tacitly concede that CIA is too incompetent to protect its people.