CIA hid videotapes from Sept. 11 panel

Commission asked agency for material on interrogations of al-Qaida operatives

December 22, 2007|By New York Times News Service.

WASHINGTON -- A review of classified documents by former members of the Sept. 11 commission shows that the panel made repeated and detailed requests to the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 and 2004 for documents and other information about the interrogation of operatives of al-Qaida and was told by a top CIA official that the agency had "produced or made available for review" everything that had been requested.

The review was conducted earlier this month after the disclosure that in November 2005, the CIA destroyed videotapes documenting the interrogations of two Qaida operatives.

A seven-page memo prepared by Philip D. Zelikow, the panel's former executive director, concluded that "further investigation is needed" to determine whether the CIA's withholding of the tapes from the commission violated federal law.

In interviews this week, the two chairmen of the commission, Lee H. Hamilton and Thomas H. Kean, said their reading of the report had convinced them that the agency had made a conscious decision to impede the Sept. 11 commission's inquiry.

Kean said the panel would provide the memo to the federal prosecutors and congressional investigators who are trying to determine whether the destruction of the tapes or withholding them from the courts and the panel was improper.

A CIA spokesman said the agency had been prepared to give the Sept. 11 commission the interrogation videotapes but commission staff members never specifically asked for interrogation videos.

The review by Zelikow does not assert that the commission specifically asked for videotapes, but it quotes from formal requests by the commission to the CIA that sought "documents," "reports" and "information" related to the interrogations.

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