NYT: CIA lawyers gave written approval to destroy interrogation tapes

Ted Kennedy, once again proven to be dead wrong on a wild, irresponsible accusation against the Bush administration.

Lawyers within the clandestine branch of the Central Intelligence Agency gave written approval in advance to the destruction in 2005 of hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda, according to a former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the episode.

The involvement of agency lawyers in the decision making would widen the scope of the inquiries into the matter that have now begun in Congress and within the Justice Department. Any written documents are certain to be a focus of government investigators as they try to reconstruct the events leading up to the tapes’ destruction.

The former intelligence official acknowledged that there had been nearly two years of debate among government agencies about what to do with the tapes, and that lawyers within the White House and the Justice Department had in 2003 advised against a plan to destroy them. But the official said that C.I.A. officials had continued to press the White House for a firm decision, and that the C.I.A. was never given a direct order not to destroy the tapes.

“They never told us, ‘Hell, no,’” he said. “If somebody had said, ‘You cannot destroy them,’ we would not have destroyed them.”

And there the conspiracy ends. The White House advised against destroying the tapes. We await apologies from Sen. Kennedy and everyone else on the left who went nuts with Watergate talk over all of this. AJ Strata wonders if the lawyers who were in the know include Mary McCarthy, the partisan who leaked about CIA secret prisons and “torture” (both of which we now know that Rep. Pelosi knew about and did not object to). That would be delicious in irony, but it’s probably too much to hope for.