The leaders of a US commission that examined the September 11, 2001 terror attacks accused the CIA Wednesday of having obstructed their investigation by withholding information about videotaped interrogations of terror suspects.
The goal of the blue ribbon 9/11 Commission, wrote chairman Thomas Kean and vice-chairman Lee Hamilton in The New York Times, was "to provide the American people with the fullest possible account" of what led to Al-Qaeda's attacks more than six years ago on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
But Kean and Hamilton wrote that although US President George W. Bush had ordered all executive branch agencies to cooperate with the probe, "recent revelations that the CIA destroyed videotaped interrogations of Qaeda operatives leads us to conclude that the agency failed to respond to our lawful requests for information about the 9/11 plot."
"Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation."
They continued: "There could have been absolutely no doubt in the mind of anyone at the CIA — or the White House — of the commission's interest in any and all information related to Qaeda detainees involved in the 9/11 plot.
"Yet no one in the administration ever told the commission of the existence of videotapes of detainee interrogations," Kean and Hamilton wrote.
They said the panel made repeated, detailed requests to the spy agency in 2003 and 2004 for information about the interrogation of members of the Islamic extremist network but were never notified about the existence of the tapes.
The CIA revealed last month that in 2005 it destroyed videotapes that showed harsh interrogations of two Al-Qaeda members.