[Congressional Record: December 13, 2007 (Senate)]
[Page S15452-S15453]


  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, it seems that every week there is a new 
revelation about how this administration has engaged in activity that 
is not consistent with American laws or values when it comes to the 
issue of torture. Last week, CIA Director Michael Hayden acknowledged 
that Central Intelligence Agency officials destroyed videotapes of 
detainees being subjected to so-called ``enhanced interrogation 
techniques.'' These techniques reportedly include forms of torture like 
waterboarding. The New York Times reported, ``The tapes were destroyed 
in part because officers were concerned that video showing harsh 
interrogation methods could expose agency officials to legal risks.''
  The CIA apparently withheld information about the existence of 
interrogation videotapes from official proceedings, including the 9/11 
Commission and the Federal court hearing the case of Zacarias 
Moussaoui. General Hayden asserts that the videotapes were destroyed 
``in line with the law,'' but it is the Justice Department's role to 
determine whether the law was broken.
  Last week I asked Attorney General Mukasey to investigate whether CIA 
officials who covered up the existence of these videotapes violated the 
law. To his credit, the Attorney General has begun a preliminary 
  This week there is a new revelation. The CIA has already acknowledged 
videotaping interrogations of detainees in CIA custody. Now it appears 
that there may be videotapes of detainees who the CIA transferred or 
rendered to other countries to be interrogated.
  According to the Chicago Tribune, in February 2003, the CIA detained 
a man named Abu Omar in Italy. The CIA then took Abu Omar to Egypt and 
turned him over to the Egyptian government. Abu Omar claims he was 
tortured and that his Egyptian interrogators recorded, ``the sounds of 
my torture and my cries.''
  In response to this story, CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said he 
could not ``speak to the taping practices of other intelligence 
services.'' Notice what he did not say. He did not say whether the CIA 
is aware of foreign countries recording interrogations of detainees who 
were transferred to them by the CIA. In fact, if the CIA sends a 

[[Page S15453]]

to a foreign country for the purpose of interrogation, it seems 
reasonable to expect that we would monitor the interrogation by video 
or audio recording or by some other means.
  Why are we sending detainees to other countries to be interrogated in 
the first place? Under the Bush administration, the CIA has reportedly 
transferred detainees to countries that routinely engage in torture so 
that these detainees can be interrogated using torture techniques that 
would not be permissible under U.S. law. The administration calls this 
practice rendition. Others call it by a different name outsourcing 
  The Torture Convention, which the United States has ratified, makes 
it illegal to transfer individuals to countries where they are likely 
to be tortured. The administration has said that it stands by this 
legal prohibition.
  However, the administration has said that it will transfer a detainee 
to a country that routinely engages in torture if the State Department 
receives so-called ``diplomatic assurances'' that the detainee will not 
be tortured. Based on diplomatic assurances, the administration has 
reportedly sent detainees to countries that systematically engage in 
torture, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Some of these 
detainees, like Abu Omar, say that they were then tortured in these 
countries. Now there may be video or audio taped evidence of that.
  Even with diplomatic assurances, should we be sending people to 
countries like Egypt to be interrogated? Every year, our State 
Department issues Country Reports on the human rights practices of 
countries around the world. Here is what the most recent Country Report 
on Egypt says:

       Principal methods of torture . . . included stripping and 
     blindfolding victims; suspending victims from a ceiling or 
     doorframe with feet just touching the floor; beating victims 
     with fists, whips, metal rods, or other objects; using 
     electrical shocks; and dousing victims with cold water.

  The State Department claims that it monitors compliance with 
diplomatic assurances. Experts point out that it is very difficult to 
monitor whether a country has kept its promise not to torture someone. 
Now it appears that there may be recordings to help the State 
Department make this determination.
  This week's news raises many questions:

       Have recordings been made of interrogations of detainees 
     who were rendered by the CIA to foreign countries?
       Were these recordings made at the request of the CIA?
       Are these recordings in the possession of the CIA?
       Have these recordings been destroyed by or at the request 
     of the CIA?
       Do these recordings contain evidence that detainees were 
       Has the State Department reviewed these recordings to 
     determine whether foreign countries have complied with their 
     ``diplomatic assurances'' not to torture detainees who we 
     transfer to them?

  Yesterday, I sent a letter to CIA Director Michael Hayden to ask him 
about the CIA's involvement in these recordings. I also sent a letter 
to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking her whether the State 
Department has reviewed these recordings to determine whether detainees 
we have transferred to foreign countries were tortured. And, finally, I 
sent a letter to Attorney General Mukasey asking him to expand the 
Justice Department's inquiry into the CIA torture tapes to cover 
recordings of detainees who the CIA sent to foreign countries for the 
purposes of interrogation.
  I am glad that Attorney General has opened a preliminary inquiry into 
this issue. Now comes the difficult part getting to ground truth. 
Unfortunately, there certainly will be more revelations to come. It 
will be a long time before we get to the bottom of this torture 
scandal. I fear it will be even longer before we undo the damage done 
to America's image and our values.