In a report to the National Archives (pdf) released last week, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said it could not locate a recording of the final interrogation of Jose Padilla, the American citizen who was designated an enemy combatant and later convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.
The missing Padilla interrogation video was first reported in February 2007 by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball in Newsweek. Their story triggered a legal inquiry by the National Archives, which advised DIA that the disposal of such a record is “not authorized.”
DIA reported back to the National Archives in December 2007 in a terse four-paragraph letter concerning the loss.
Unlike the case of the CIA’s reported destruction of videotaped interrogations of al Qaeda suspects, DIA did not say that the Padilla tape was deliberately destroyed, only that it could not be found.
A government official with some knowledge of the events told Secrecy News that he “heard” the Padilla DVD had been transferred from DIA to CIA, which may have destroyed it. But there is no independent evidence of that, and it may not be true.
What is true is that DIA and the National Archives failed to establish exactly how the loss of the Padilla interrogation recording actually occurred.
An agency that unlawfully or accidentally destroys a record is required by regulation (36 C.F.R. 1228.104) to provide “a statement of the exact circumstances surrounding the alienation, defacing, or destruction of the records.”
But in its report, DIA did not explain “the exact circumstances” of the loss and the National Archives did not press the matter.
The exchange of correspondence between DIA and the Archives regarding the Padilla interrogation video was released to the Federation of American Scientists last week under the Freedom of Information Act.