The US Justice Department says CIA officials who have been accused of destroying videos showing torture of detainees are immune from prosecution.
The attorney general opened an inquiry into the matter in 2008. The move came after the spy agency acknowledged that it destroyed 92 videos showing torture of two suspected al-Qaeda members.
Thereafter, the CIA director Michael Hayden said the destruction aimed at protecting the identity of the interrogators. International rights groups have, however, accused the US intelligence agency of destroying the tapes just to cover up torture.
To discuss the issue further, Press TV conducted a phone interview with Ray McGovern who is a former CIA analyst.
Press TV: After two years of investigation, the Justice Department says they will not press for criminal charges, so why such an exhaustive probe was launched in the first place?
McGovern: Well, I think it is three years and it is a window-dressing. When you hear that evidence of torture has been destroyed, you cannot be seen to be doing nothing. You have to pick a reliable federal prosecutor and when I say reliable, I mean one who will do what his uppers in the Justice Department tells him to do. You pick him. You put him on an ostensible investigation and you give it a few years and whenever everybody has sort of forgotten the destroyed tapes, then you bring him back and say, well there is not enough evidence to convict these people.
This is the supreme crime here. The supreme crime being that in any regime, in a country of laws, no one is above the law, not the president, not the attorney general who is supposed to be the highest law enforcement officer, and not the CIA. When you have a president, and of course this is Obama's decision as well as the holders', condoning destruction of evidence and the folks who held drills and guns to detainees' heads, when you have people deciding that they are above the law, then you have a situation where the regime of law not only domestically but internationally suffers a severe blow.
This is the new low for a country and there are two new lows. This one, the holding of people who destroyed evidence blameless and the other being Bush's memoir book in which he brags, flaunts and just praises himself for having indulged in what the world recognizes as a war crime, namely torturing detainees.
Press TV: Why did the CIA destroy the tapes?
Ray McGovern: Well, I have not seen the tapes but by all appearances those tapes were the most graphic demonstration of these torture techniques and once you show even a person who is made out to be a beast, Khaled Sheihkh Mohammed, for example, being tortured like this then the world would know what beasts we have become.
Bear in mind that George W. Bush, who is now bragging about authorizing the water boarding of Khaled Sheihkh Mohammed, he [Khaled Sheihkh Mohammed] was not water boarded once. He was water boarded 183 times and George Bush last Saturday said I would do it again and he claims, which is a lie, that this has made our country and other countries safer.
We know from our own interrogators out in Iraq that 90 percent, I repeat 90 percent, of the Jihadists who came to Iraq after we invaded Iraq, came in specially because of [what happened in] Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons. That is what torture does. Besides, you risk the possibility that your own troops will be tortured in the future in some engagements. So it makes no sense. It does not make us safer.
The other argument that they use, that after 9/11 they desperately feared another attack. A month went by, and guess what, they did not interview the people who would have known about another attack and that I refer explicitly to Mousavi who was in prison, Richard Reid, the famous bomber over the Atlantic. Those two people were in our custody and did FBI interview them? The answer is 'no' and so I ask you if you are terribly afraid of an imminent second attack why not ask some of the accomplices, why not ask some of the people who we know are tied in with Al-Qaeda?
… They tortured people for a couple of reasons. One was, well you know that you cannot get accurate information from the torture. The head of Army Intelligence said that on the 6 of September 2006 when he said, “No good intelligence is ever going to come through harsh interrogation techniques.” History has shown that and the experience of the last five years, difficult years, also shows that. So number one: no accurate intelligence. So why do you torture? You know, to get inaccurate information. If you want to prove for example that there are ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, there is nothing that works better than torture and that is precisely what they did. Primary aim was to get somebody to admit the “ties" between Iraq and al-Qaeda, to allow the president and his underlings to say to the American people, Iraq was involved in 9/11 and that is why we have to attack Iraq.
The whole thing is unprecedented as to its duplicity, its lying and its consequences.