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White House Lawyers And The Torture Tapes

When it comes to the CIA’s destruction of video footage of U.S. torture of detainees, the White House, on the advice of counsel, has stopped comment

When it comes to the CIA’s destruction of video footage of U.S. torture of detainees, the White House, on the advice of counsel, has stopped commenting. About the only thing we’ve gotten from the Bush gang of late were vague comments from the president himself: “There’s a preliminary inquiry going on and I think you’ll find that a lot more data, facts will be coming out, that’s good. It will be interesting to know what the true facts are.”

It will be, indeed. Today, the NYT moves the ball forward with some more "true facts," reporting that White House lawyers weren’t just aware of the torture tapes, but discussed their handling in some detail.

At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.

The accounts indicate that the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged.

Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David S. Addington, who was the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and is now his chief of staff; John B. Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel.

Who would have guessed? Oh wait, that’s right, everyone could have guessed.

Marty Lederman has more.

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