The revelation Monday comes as a criminal prosecutor is wrapping up his investigation in the matter.
The acknowledgment of dozens of destroyed tapes came in a letter filed by government lawyers in New York, where the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking more details of terror interrogation programs.
“The CIA can now identify the number of videotapes that were destroyed,” said the letter by Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin. “Ninety two videotapes were destroyed.”
The tapes became a contentious issue in the trial of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, after prosecutors initially claimed no such recordings existed, then acknowledged two videotapes and one audiotape had been made.
The letter, dated March 2 to Judge Alvin Hellerstein, says the CIA is now gathering more details for the lawsuit, including a list of the destroyed records, any secondary accounts that describe the destroyed contents, and the identities of those who may have viewed or possessed the recordings before they were destroyed.
But the lawyers also note that some of that information may be classified, such as the names of CIA personnel that viewed the tapes.
“The CIA intends to produce all of the information requested to the court and to produce as much information as possible on the public record to the plaintiffs,” states the letter.
John Durham, a senior career prosecutor in Connecticut, was appointed to lead the criminal investigation out of Virginia.
He had asked that the requests for information in the civil lawsuit be put on hold until he had completed his criminal investigation. Durham asked that he be given until the end of February to wrap up his work, and has not asked for another extension.