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CIA destroyed 92 interrogation videos: official

The tapes reportedly showed "war on terror" Al-Qaeda suspects undergoing waterboarding, in which prisoners are subjected to a process of simulated drowning that is widely considered torture.

world Updated: Mar 02, 2009 23:21 IST

The CIA has destroyed 92 controversial interrogation videos, a US attorney said in a letter on Monday obtained by

AFP.

"The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed," Acting US Attorney Lev Dassin wrote in his letter dated March 2 to New York Judge Alvin Hellerstein.

"Ninety-two videotapes were destroyed."

The tapes reportedly showed "war on terror" Al-Qaeda suspects undergoing waterboarding, in which prisoners are subjected to a process of simulated drowning that is widely considered torture.

In December 2007, then CIA chief Michael Hayden disclosed the existence of tapes showing the interrogations of two Al-Qaeda suspects, made in 2002 and destroyed in 2005 to protect the identity of agency operatives.

Dassin on Monday asked for the CIA be given until March 6 to prepare a schedule for bringing any records on the tapes to court in a case first brought against the CIA by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in December 2007.

"This letter provides further evidence for holding the CIA in contempt of court," said Amrit Singh, ACLU staff attorney, in a statement.

"The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systemic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court's order."

Virginia acting US attorney, John Durham, is conducting a criminal investigation into the destruction of the tapes to see if the CIA broke any laws.

Dassin asked to be given until Friday so that the CIA could prepare a list of the destroyed records, as well as a list of any summaries or transcripts relating to them.

He also wrote that he expected that the CIA would be asked to provide the names of any witnesses who might have seen the tapes before they were destroyed.

"The CIA intends to produce all of the information requested to the Court and to produce as much information as possible on the public record to the plaintiffs," Dassin concluded.

George Tenet was CIA chief when the tapes were made, and Porter Goss headed the agency when the tapes were destroyed.