Rush Holt continues to be a sane voice for best practices in intelligence-gathering. Today, he spoke out about declassified documents showing that former CIA Director Porter Goss ordered the destruction of interrogation tapes made of of terrorism suspects Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
For years, I’ve been trying to establish in law that detainee interrogations should be recorded and the records preserved. The benefits of recording interrogations are evident, as they help maximize intelligence collection, help prevent detainee abuses such as those that happened in Abu Ghraib, and protect interrogators as well. Had my proposed detainee interrogation videorecording provision in the pending FY 2010 intelligence bill been law at the time, there would have been no question that the destruction of the tapes would have been illegal. I urge President Obama and my Senate colleagues to recognize the necessity of passing this provision so these kinds of episodes never happen again.
What Holt’s referring to there are his efforts, in the Intelligence Authorization Bill, to require videotaping of interactions between CIA officers and detainees arrested in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Holt believes better intelligence would result – and we’d do better at avoiding abuses like those at Abu Ghraib. Holt’s provision in the bill would require the CIA Director to develop the guidelines to prevent human rights abuses under both U.S. and international law. It’s a near match to a provision Holt included in the National Defense Authorization Act, now the legal basis for Defense Dept. videos of interrogations.
Holt chairs the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, created out of recommendations of the 9/11 Commission in its finding that “Congressional oversight for intelligence-and counterterrorism-is now dysfunctional”, and urging Congress to fix that. (Member Rep. David Obey has more). Members are drawn from both the House intelligence and appropriations committees (Holt comes from the intelligence side). In its first 3 years, they’ve scrutinized more than $75 billion in intelligence funding yearly, conducted hearings, on-site reviews and briefings. Holt often speaks out, urging modification and best practices in our intelligence gathering. Somebody in power needs to.