The Central Intelligence Agency videotapes of captured al Qaeda figure Abu Zubaydah that were controversially destroyed in 2005 were made in part to document the alleged terrorist's medical condition, according to intelligence sources.
During the operation to capture him in 2002, Zubaydah was shot multiple times, including in the groin, and was treated by CIA medics.
"There were concerns that there be a record of his medical treatment and condition in the event that he died," says one intelligence official.
Interrogations were never taped as a matter of routine, and only a small fraction of the hundreds of hours of videotape showed any suspects undergoing what intelligence officials call "enhanced interrogation techniques," including waterboarding, a process that simulates drowning. Tapes were made of two al Qaeda suspects held in CIA custody, but the vast majority of the footage was of Zubayah.
"A lot of it is him sitting alone in his cell," says one official.
The revelation of the making of these tapes—as well as their subsequent destruction in 2005—has sparked a major controversy on Capitol Hill. Democrats charge that they were not informed of either event and have opened multiple investigations into the matter.
The CIA director, Gen. Michael Hayden, admitted that the CIA made some mistakes in handling the matter before he assumed his post in 2006. "We could have done an awful lot better at keeping the committee informed," he said today after briefing the House Intelligence Committee. CIA critics have accused the agency of destroying the tapes to avoid further scrutiny about the agency's interrogation methods.