DOJ Mum As Deadline Passes To Prosecute CIA Torture Tapes Destruction

Lauren Victoria Burke/WDCPIX.COM

The statute of limitations for criminal prosecution in the destruction of videotapes that allegedly showed CIA officials torturing two inmates is set to expire today. But Justice Department officials aren’t publicly saying anything about it.

The videotapes that reportedly contained evidence of the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” during the questioning of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were destroyed by the CIA back in November 2005, which means the statute of limitations expires today, as pointed out by Firedoglake.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler referred TPMMuckraker’s questions about the statute of limitations expiration to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Connecticut, where John Durham (the federal prosecutor handling the matter) is based. That spokesman, Tom Carson, did not return a message requesting comment.The probe into the destruction of the tapes was first announced by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey back in January 2008, when he named Assistant U.S. Attorney Durham to head the probe.

The CIA acknowledged in court documents that 12 of the destroyed CIA interrogation tapes depicted “enhanced interrogation techniques.” CIA head Porter Goss was said to have agreed to the destruction of the tapes.

Attorney General Eric Holder launched a separate probe, also headed by Durham, to look at whether there was enough evidence to launch a preliminary investigation of whether CIA officials went outside of the interrogation guidance issued during the Bush administration. Holder said back in June that Durham was nearly ready to make a recommendation in that matter, though critics said that his investigation is too narrow in scope.

Late update: “We’re not commenting at all on any statute of limitations questions,” Carson told TPMMuckraker Monday afternoon. “We wouldn’t confirm that.” As for the inquiry opened by Durham at Holder’s request: “We wouldn’t comment as to what the Attorney General said or if the Department has any response to that. I’d leave it to the Office of Public Affairs to make that comment.”

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