Not all of the CIA torture tapes were destroyed as the CIA has claimed, according to a new Associated Press report. In fact, the agency is in possession of two videotapes and one audio tape that it discovered under a desk back in 2007.
Several current and former U.S. officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told the AP that the tapes depict Binalshibh’s interrogation sessions at the hand of the CIA at a Moroccan-run facility the agency used near Rabat in 2002.
The AP reported that the tapes could complicate efforts to prosecute Binalshibh, described as a “key facilitator” in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The recordings, said the AP, could “provide an unparalleled look at how foreign governments aided the U.S. in holding and questioning suspected terrorists.”
Attorney General Eric Holder said in June that federal prosecutor John Durham was nearly ready to make a recommendation on whether there was enough evidence to launch a full investigation of whether CIA officers broke laws in treatment of CIA prisoners. The CIA destroyed 92 videos of two other al-Qaida operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri, being waterboarded in 2005.
Last year, the Justice Department admitted that 12 of the destroyed interrogation tapes depicted so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” CIA Director Porter Goss agreed with the destruction of the tapes.
Durham is now also investigating why the two videotapes and one audiotape discovered under a desk in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center in 2007, believed to the the only remaining recordings made within the secret prison system, were never disclosed. The government twice told a federal judge that such tapes did not exist.
Current and former U.S. officials told the AP that no harsh interrogation methods like waterboarding were used in Morocco, so it’s not clear if the tapes would depict any form of torture. But for his defense team, the tapes might provide evidence of Binalshibh’s mental state. Lawyers had been asking to see medical records to determine his mental state during his years in CIA custody, as he is being treated for schizophrenia.