In the first court hearing on the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes, government lawyers denied that the footage bore any relevance to a dozen Guantanamo Bay detainees who are petitioning a federal judge to be released from U.S. custody.

“It is inconceivable that the destruction of the tapes could have been about the abuse, mistreatment, or torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay,” Joseph Hunt, a lawyer for the Justice Department, told U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. at a Dec. 21 motions hearing.