In the annals of unconvincing excuses, this one is now quickly rising into gold medal territory. The question is why the CIA never turned over its interrogration videotapes to the 9/11 Commission:
A C.I.A. spokesman said that the agency had been prepared to give the Sept. 11 commission the interrogation videotapes, but that commission staff members never specifically asked for interrogation videos.
The review by Mr. Zelikow does not assert that the commission specifically asked for videotapes, but it quotes from formal requests by the commission to the C.I.A. that sought "documents," "reports" and "information" related to the interrogations.
....Mark Mansfield, the C.I.A. spokesman, said that the agency had gone to "great lengths" to meet the commission's requests, and that commission members had been provided with detailed information obtained from interrogations of agency detainees.
"Because it was thought the commission could ask about the tapes at some point, they were not destroyed while the commission was active," Mr. Mansfield said.
So let's review:
- The 9/11 Commission was an official investigative body chartered by both Congress and the president.
- It specifically asked for "documents," "reports" and "information" related to detainee interrogations.
- The CIA knew about the tapes, knew they were germane, and knew the commission was likely to ask for them at some point.
- But it never revealed their existence and never turned them over because no one ever specifically said the word, "videotape."
From an administration that said the vice president is a fourth branch of government; that the Medicare prescription bill would only cost $400 billion; that waterboarding isn't torture; and that Iraq was trying to procure uranium from Africa well, this one might not even make its all-time top ten mendacity list. For one thing, the deceit is a little too obvious. Surely to make the list your lies have to display more than a fourth-grade level of sophistication?