Justice to drop investigations into CIA officials involved in torture

The Justice Department will end a wide-ranging probe into the CIA's past interrogation, rendition, and detention activities, but it will launch a formal criminal investigation into agency officials involved in the deaths of two detainees, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Thursday.

"The department has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted," Holder said in a statement.

Holder said he accepted the recommendation of longtime federal prosecutor John Durham to proceed with a criminal investigation into the deaths of the two detainees, adding that Durham's team "reviewed a tremendous volume of information pertaining to the detainees" that included "both information and matters that had never previously been examined by the department."

the attorney general tapped Durham in 2009 to review cases of alleged detainee mistreatment and death at the hands of CIA interrogators and contractors under the George W. Bush administration.

The probe has been hanging over the CIA, and Holder's decision to end it was immediately welcomed by key officials.

Notably, Holder made his announcement only minutes before the Senate voted 94-0 to confirm Gen. David Petraeus as the next CIA director. The announcement was also made on the last day for current CIA Director Leon Panetta, who is heading to the Pentagon as the next Defense secretary.

"After extensive examination of more than 100 instances in which CIA had contact or was alleged to have had contact with terrorist detainees, [Durham] has determined that no further law enforcement action is appropriate in all but two discrete cases," Panetta said in a message to CIA employees.

"No decision has been made to bring criminal charges," added Panetta, who fiercely defended CIA agents during his tenure. "Both cases were previously reviewed by career federal prosecutors who subsequently declined prosecution. The agency will, of course, continue to cooperate fully in the remaining investigations."

The Justice Department did not identify the two detainees who died while in CIA custody, but sources said they believed the two were Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who died at a U.S. base in al-Qaim, Iraq, in 2005, and Manadel al-Jamadi who died at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003.

During his confirmation hearing to lead the CIA, Petraeus said "it is time to take the rearview mirrors off the bus with respect to certain actions out there." Petraeus did not specifically mention Durham's investigation, but he referred to CIA practices conducted in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"We do not any longer truly, I think, appreciate the context of the post-9/11 period and some actions that were taking place under direction," Petraeus told the Senate Intelligence Committee. "And I, for one, again, as the potential leader of the agency, would like to see us focus forward and indeed put some of these actions behind us once and for all and put our workforce at rest with respect to that."

House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., also praised Holder's decision.

"I hope that this decision will allow our intelligence professionals to move forward with their critical work free from the chilling effect of further investigation and with the deserved full confidence of the American people," Rogers said.

"Similarly, I expect that the criminal investigation announced today will be continued in a manner fully consistent with the principle reaffirmed by the attorney general that we will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of legal advice."

Yochi Dreazen contributed to this report.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.