US closes investigation into CIA over detainment methods
A US investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency’s practice of detaining and interrogating captured militants has been closed, with no criminal charges being brought, the justice department announced.
The interrogators used techniques such as “waterboarding,” or simulated drowning, which president Barack Obama and human rights advocates say is torture.
Attorney general Eric Holder said on Thursday that the investigation “was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offences were committed and was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct.”
Current and former CIA officials welcomed the decision. They have maintained that the programme, begun after the 11 September attacks in 2001, was conducted under guidelines issued by lawyers of the administration of former president George W Bush.
The inquiry was originally designed to look into the destruction of videotapes of interrogations by CIA personnel.
A former official familiar with the tapes’ contents said they depicted two suspects – Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri – being subjected to waterboarding.
Three years ago, Mr Holder expanded the probe to include the detention and interrogation of 101 militants alleged to have been held in custody by US authorities in the years since 2001.
The videotapes portion of the investigation was closed in 2010, with no charges brought.
In June of last year, the justice department announced that only two of the 101 detention and interrogation cases that Mr Holder asked federal prosecutor John Durham to review would be expanded into full-scale criminal investigations.
These investigations, government sources said, related to the deaths in CIA custody of one prisoner in Afghanistan and another in Iraq.
The Afghan detainee, Gul Rahman, died in 2002 while being held at a secret CIA facility known as the “salt pit.”
The Iraqi detainee, Manadel al-Jamadi, died in 2003 while in CIA custody at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison. He allegedly had been beaten by US Navy Seals.
People familiar with the investigation said that because the deaths occurred so long ago, there would have been legal and evidentiary problems pursuing any prosecutions.
A US official said the CIA or Pentagon could still pursue disciplinary proceedings against personnel who may have been involved in alleged abuses.
Former CIA director Michael Hayden said he was “heartened that the investigation is complete, and I’m heartened by the results”.
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the outcome of the investigation “nothing short of a scandal.”
“Continuing impunity threatens to undermine the universally recognised prohibition on torture and other abusive treatment,” Mr Jaffer said.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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