Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
Within hours, if not minutes, after the CIA announced it destroyed two videos made in 2002 of its agents torturing al Qaida suspects, Attorney Gen. Michael Mukasey should have ordered the CIA and all federal agencies to preserve any evidence related to the filming of torture sessions involving terror suspects.
Over the weekend, the urgent need for this order was underscored by the development that other videos of other torture sessions may exist:
A letter by a Virginia-based U.S. attorney to a federal appeals court appears to contradict CIA Director Michael Hayden's public statements on the destruction of hundreds of hours of video footage of "extreme" interrogations of suspected al-Qaida operatives by strongly indicating that at least two of the videos still exist.
Charles Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, wrote that his office viewed two videotapes of CIA interrogations of al-Qaida suspects as recently as September 19 and October 18 of this year --- contrary to Hayden's statement that the tapes were destroyed in 2005.
The CIA's announcement that the videos had been destroyed brought to mind the revelation by the White House last spring that as many as 5 million inter-office emails had been "lost." It is likely that emails contained evidence that top Bush officials, including especially Karl Rove, engaged in a conspiracy to leak, and then cover up the leak, of the secret identity of Valerie Wilson, a CIA specialist in the black market for terror weapons.
Anyone who is familiar with the fundamentals of data storage can attest that it takes a concerted effort to "lose" data stored on hard drives. This is especially so for emails, which are stored on hard drives of both the sender and the receiver as well as on outgoing and incoming email servers.
The videos, like the emails, were presumably in digital format rather than old-fashioned videotape. If so, it is more than likely that multiple backup copies were created, which increases the chance that additional copies could still exist on a disk somewhere.
Of course, the CIA has had plenty of time to track down and obliterate backup copies of the torture videos, just as White House officials have had more than sufficient time now --- eight months at least --- to scour and wipe clean the hard drives on which the 5 million emails were stored.
This returns us to the main question: Where is Mukasey? His silence and inaction on the preservation of evidence in this unfolding scandal suggests what many suspected --- that Michael Mukasey, like his predecessor Alberto Gonzales, is more concerned with the political preservation of his boss than he is with the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States.