Terrorist's Appeal Uncovers CIA Tape Info

Moussaoui docs show feds knew more of interrogation tapes than they've said.

ByABC News
February 6, 2008, 8:20 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2008— -- Convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui's drawn-out appeal is revealing new information about interrogation tapes in possession of the CIA and that prosecutors on the case knew that a CIA interrogation tape of Abu Zubaydah had been destroyed.

The main argument of Moussaoui's appeal is that the government withheld evidence from his defense and that the CIA had submitted declarations in 2003 to the U.S. District Court in Alexandria that no recordings of detainee interrogations existed.

The government first admitted it had tapes of interrogations in a letter, dated Oct. 25, 2007, which was disclosed last November. In that letter the Justice Department acknowledged the CIA had filed inaccurate declarations in Moussaoui's case.

"Further the CIA came into possession of the three recordings under unique circumstances involving separate national security matters unrelated to the Moussaoui Prosecution," the letter said.

The CIA acknowledged on Dec. 6, 2007, that interrogation videotapes of two al Qaeda detainees who had been waterboarded had been destroyed.

That same day in a top secret court motion rebutting the appeal by Moussaoui's lawyers, prosecutor David Novak acknowledges, "Moussaoui's proposed areas of inquiry address the existence of recordings for the six other enemy combatant witnesses." A footnote in the filing denies allegations of torture, claiming "to the contrary, the videotapes show [redacted] sitting in a chair answering questions."

In a top secret court filing dated Nov. 21, 2007, that was declassified today, Moussaoui's appeal lawyers Justin Antonipillai and Barbara Hartung said in their argument for a hearing on the issue before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that "the October 25th letter fails to provide any adequate reassurances that there are not other recordings of pertinent detainee interrogations either in the government's possession or in the possession of foreign governments but accessible to the United States."

Moussaoui's request to have the U.S. District Court review and consider the tapes was denied by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in a January 16, 2008 order. Moussaoui's overall appeal of his case could be considered and argued before the 4th Circuit in the future.