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Federal Judge Begins Investigation of CIA Tape Destruction

In a hearing Friday, a federal judge sought answers on the legality of the 2005 destruction of CIA interrogation tapes. The NewsHour discusses the current investigation of the tapes with Ari Shapiro, justice correspondent for National Public Radio.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    News reports this week said a wider than originally named circle of White House officials were involved in discussions about the destruction of two CIA interrogation tapes. The CIA has agreed to cooperate with congressional investigators.

    And today, Justice Department lawyers were in federal court in Washington to answer complaints that the destruction of the tapes was in violation of an earlier court order.

    We get an update on all this from Ari Shapiro, justice correspondent for National Public Radio.

    Welcome.

  • ARI SHAPIRO, National Public Radio:

    Thanks, Jeff.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Let's start with today's court hearing. You were there. First, remind us what the case was about.

  • ARI SHAPIRO:

    Well, back in 2005, this judge, Judge Henry Kennedy, had issued an order telling the government to preserve any documents relevant to abuse, torture or otherwise mistreatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison.

    Five months later, the CIA destroyed these videotapes depicting interrogations of two detainees at CIA prisons. And so this hearing was into whether the government — sorry, whether the court, rather, should open an inquiry into whether the government violated that court order from 2005.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The original lawsuit, though, to go back, was brought by detainees at Guantanamo.

  • ARI SHAPIRO:

    That's right. And so…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    About, for what purpose?

  • ARI SHAPIRO:

    Filing habeas corpus claims, petitions challenging their detention at Guantanamo. And so in court today you had government lawyers from the Justice Department arguing that the judge should not open this inquiry.

    And on the other side, you had attorneys representing Guantanamo detainees saying that this inquiry is necessary to determine whether the government destroyed evidence.