[from the ACLU’s prepared text:]
Mr. Attorney General:
The deliberate destruction of tapes showing “harsh interrogation techniques” by the C.I.A. suggests an utter disregard for the rule of law. These tapes were needed for Congress, courts, and even the 9/11 commission to do their work.
Because the Justice Department and top officials in the White House and the C.I.A. have been major players in the torture scandal, only an independent prosecutor can get at the truth.
I demand that you immediately appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate and, if appropriate, prosecute crimes that may have been committed by C.I.A. personnel or other top officials.
As I recall, in your confirmation hearings, you declined to classify waterboarding as torture, despite testimony from those who voluntarily underwent the procedure, despite arguments that the procedure does in fact place subjects’ lives at risk, despite the fact it is unlikely you would want our own military and intelligence personnel subjected to such treatment when they fall into hostile hands, and despite the fact that such interrogations can only yield what subjects think their interrogators want to hear. Now it seems at least some evidence you claim to need to render judgment has been destroyed.
Your claim to need further evidence of the illegality of these practices is not credible. As a communication scholar, I know that the real purpose–with a dubious record of historical effectiveness–of such “interrogations” is the intimidation of a subject population.
A policy of “harsh interrogation” can, in fact, be said to reliably accomplish only one purpose, that is, to further antagonize already hostile populations so as to prolong a “war on terror.” It thus supports the further consolidation of power within the executive branch, increasing the value of a prize sought in next year’s electoral contest.
It is also implausible that these tapes could implicate interrogators for hostile operatives. I have complete confidence that the interrogators are as well known to hostile operatives as they are their victims, that is, unless, you now regard the United States Congress–which has yet to substantially fail to support Bush administration policy in the war on terror–as hostile, or unless, you now regard the judicial system, also tilted in favor of “law and order” and thus a hierarchy that protects the elite, as hostile, or unless, you now regard U.S. citizens who, sensing defeat, now oppose the war, as hostile.
The ACLU sees the destruction of these tapes as obstruction of justice. I see it as a tiny piece in the prosecution of a larger injustice that kills innocent people, deprives U.S. citizens of our rights, sends the poorer amongst us to fight in a losing war, then leaves them with inadequate medical treatment following their service, and then leaves them homeless.
I see the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the destruction of these tapes as a small part of your duty to the United States with regard to the shameful record of the Bush administration, a record that includes crimes against humanity, crimes against the Constitution, and crimes against our own people.
Do your job. And remember that that job is distinct from what your sponsors in the Bush administration tell you it is.