By now you've heard that the CIA destroyed videotapes of interrogations of alleged Al Qaeda members. The interesting part of this story is that the 9/11 Commission claimed that it obtained most of its information about the attacks from these interrogations (and then only indirectly as reported by the military to the Commission).
The New York Times confirms that the government swore that it had turned over all of the relevant material regarding the statements of the people being interrogated:
But is the destruction of the tapes -- and hiding from the 9/11 Commission the fact that the tapes existed -- a big deal? Yes, actually. As the Times goes on to state:
"The commission did formally request material of this kind from all relevant agencies, and the commission was assured that we had received all the material responsive to our request," said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as executive director of the Sept. 11 commission ....
"No tapes were acknowledged or turned over, nor was the commission provided with any transcript prepared from recordings," he said.
Daniel Marcus, a law professor at American University who served as general counsel for the Sept. 11 commission and was involved in the discussions about interviews with Al Qaeda leaders, said he had heard nothing about any tapes being destroyed.
If tapes were destroyed, he said, "it's a big deal, it's a very big deal," because it could amount to obstruction of justice to withhold evidence being sought in criminal or fact-finding investigations.
This isn't the first evidence of obstruction of justice by the government regarding the 9/11 investigations. For example:
- The 9/11 Commissioners concluded that officials from the Pentagon lied to the Commission, and considered recommending criminal charges for such false statements (although they never bothered to tell the American people about that fact)
- The tape of interviews of air traffic controllers on-duty on 9/11 was intentionally destroyed by crushing the cassette by hand, cutting the tape into little pieces, and then dropping the pieces in different trash cans around the building as shown by this NY Times article (summary version is free; full version is pay-per-view) and by this article from the Chicago Sun-Times
- Investigators for the Congressional Joint Inquiry discovered that an FBI informant had hosted and even rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House
- A former FBI translator who Senators Leahy and Grassley, among others, have claimed is credible, and who the administration has gagged for years without any logical basis -- has stated that "this administration knowingly and intentionally let many directly or indirectly involved in that terrorist act [September 11th] go free – untouched and uninvestigated"
- The FBI long ago found and analyzed the "black box" recorders from the airplanes which hit the Twin Towers, but has consistently denied that they were ever found
- The former head of the fire science and engineering division of the agency now investigating the world trade center disaster, who is a professor of fire protection engineering, wrote that evidence necessary to determine the cause of the collapse of the World Trade Centers was being destroyed
- In addition, the official investigators themselves were denied access to the site and the evidence contained there, or even access to such basic information as the blueprints for the world trade center . The blueprints for the world trade center are apparently STILL being withheld from reporters and the public, and the government agency in charge of the investigation has grossly mischaracterized the structure of the buildings.
Indeed, there are even indications that false evidence may have been planted to deflect attention from the real perpetrators.
Of course, even had the government told the truth to the 9/11 Commission, the Commission was set up as a whitewash anyway.