(AFP) – Jan 10, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — A federal judge Thursday rejected a request by war-on-terror detainees in Guantanamo who sought a hearing on the destruction of videotapes showing CIA interrogations of terror suspects, a court source said.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey opened an inquiry after last month's revelation that the CIA in 2005 destroyed tapes showing harsh interrogations of two Al-Qaeda suspects in the months after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Lawyers for 11 detainees at the US naval base on Cuba's southeastern tip then asked Judge Henry Kennedy in Washington's federal court to demand that those responsible for destroying the tapes explain their actions to the court.
Late Wednesday, Kennedy ruled that the questioning on video took place in secret CIA prisons and not at Guantanamo, and therefore was not under his purview.
He said that while a ruling he issued in 2005 "prohibits respondents from destroying evidence regarding any torture, mistreatment, or abuse of detainees that occurred at Guantanamo Bay ... (the) petitioners do not assert that the destroyed tapes depict interrogations that occurred at Guantanamo Bay and respondents have represented to the court that the interrogations depicted on the tapes did not occur there."
CIA director Michael Hayden said the tapes were destroyed to protect the identities of agents interrogating the suspects, US lawmakers and rights campaigners have dismissed the explanation and alleged a cover-up of torture.
The White House has said previously that President George W. Bush did not recall being told of the videos or the decision to destroy them prior to recent briefing.
The Bush administration has insisted that the United States does not torture, but declined to confirm what tactics might have been used to prise information from detainees.
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