The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged it has “accidentally” deleted the only copy of a mammoth torture report, at a time when Justice Department lawyers were assuring a federal judge the documents will be preserved.
The report was filled with thousands of secret CIA memos and cables and explained in meticulous detail about the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" like sleep deprivation and water boarding by “black site” prisons. The document concluded CIA inquiries were far more inhumane than previously revealed and resulted in often unreliable intelligence.
The CIA Office of Inspector General told Congress the soft copy of the 6,700-page Senate Intelligence Committee’s report and a hard disk was destroyed in August, after an unnamed person in the office thought the instructions not to open the file meant that it should be erased.
After the Justice Department ordered all copies of the report to be preserved, a search was conducted by the intelligence agency to find the copy — but soon discovered they did not have one.
While a 500-page summary of the document was released to the public in 2014, the deletion of the controversial report has disquieted the senator who is charged with overseeing the torture investigation.
The missing report also reignited debate over whether completely unabridged reports should be available to the public, and advocates from the human rights group Reprieve believe it is part of a bigger effort to eradicate the practice altogether.
The inspector general of CIA is now being blamed for the “inadvertent” foul-up that resulted from a series of errors.
The case of the missing report comes to light in the midst of a highly charged political debate about the use of torture in interrogation. Republican front-runner Donald Trump has vowed, time and again, to resume such techniques, plus a whole lot more, in the war against terrorism.