Daily Revolt

December 21, 2007

Judge Refuses to Order Hearing on C.I.A. Tapes

An early Christmas gift for King George:
A federal judge on Friday refused, at least for now, to order a hearing at which the government would have to explain in detail the destruction of C.I.A. videotapes showing the harsh interrogation of two suspected Al Qaeda operatives.

District Judge Henry H. Kennedy refused a request by lawyers for a dozen Yemeni prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that he order such a hearing. Instead, he took the matter under advisement and said he would rule later.

But Judge Kennedy, who heard a motion from the prisoners’ lawyers, appeared at one point to be at least partially swayed by Bush administration lawyers that he should not get more deeply involved while Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey is undertaking one of at least three inquiries into the tapes’ destruction.

“Why should the court not permit the Department of Justice to do just that?” Judge Kennedy asked David H. Remes, a lawyer for the detainees.

For Mr. Remes, the answer was simple. “Plainly, the government wants only foxes guarding the henhouse,” he asserted in his motion. Considering the government’s behavior so far, Mr. Remes argued, the Justice Department is not entitled to a presumption that it will do the right thing.

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