[Marxism] No charges filed on CIA murders
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 31 08:16:09 MDT 2012
NY Times August 30, 2012
No Charges Filed on Harsh Tactics Used by the C.I.A.
By SCOTT SHANE
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Thursday that no one would
be prosecuted for the deaths of a prisoner in Afghanistan in 2002 and
another in Iraq in 2003, eliminating the last possibility that any
criminal charges will be brought as a result of the brutal
interrogations carried out by the C.I.A.
Mr. Holder had already ruled out any charges related to the use of
waterboarding and other methods that most human rights experts consider
to be torture. His announcement closes a contentious three-year
investigation by the Justice Department and brings to an end years of
dispute over whether line intelligence or military personnel or their
superiors would be held accountable for the abuse of prisoners in the
aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The closing of the two cases means that the Obama administration’s
limited effort to scrutinize the counterterrorism programs carried out
under President George W. Bush has come to an end. Without elaborating,
Mr. Holder suggested that the end of the criminal investigation should
not be seen as a moral exoneration of those involved in the prisoners’
treatment and deaths.
“Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths,
the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence
would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a
reasonable doubt,” his statement said. It said the investigation “was
not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the
propriety of the examined conduct.”
The Justice Department did not say publicly which cases had been under
investigation. But officials had previously confirmed the identities of
the prisoners: Gul Rahman, suspected of being a militant, who died in
2002 after being shackled to a concrete wall in near-freezing
temperatures at a secret C.I.A. prison in Afghanistan known as the Salt
Pit; and Manadel al-Jamadi, who died in C.I.A. custody in 2003 at Abu
Ghraib prison in Iraq, where his corpse was photographed packed in ice
and wrapped in plastic.
Mr. Holder’s announcement might remove a possible target for Republicans
during the presidential campaign. But the decision will disappoint
liberals who supported President Obama when he ran in 2008 and denounced
what he called torture and abuse of prisoners under his predecessor.
“It is hugely disappointing that with ample evidence of torture, and
documented cases of some people actually being tortured to death, that
the Justice Department has not been able to mount a successful
prosecution and hold people responsible for these crimes,” said Elisa
Massimino, president of Human Rights First. “The American people need to
know what was done in their name.”
She said her group’s own investigation of the deaths of prisoners showed
that initial inquiries were bungled by military and intelligence
officers in charge of prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. She said Mr.
Holder, whose statement referred to consideration of “statutes of
limitations and jurisdictional provisions,” should have been more
explicit in explaining exactly why charges could not be brought.
While no one has been prosecuted for the harsh interrogations, a former
C.I.A. officer who helped hunt members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan and later
spoke publicly about waterboarding, John C. Kiriakou, is awaiting trial
on criminal charges that he disclosed to journalists the identity of
other C.I.A. officers who participated in the interrogations.
The C.I.A. director, David H. Petraeus, who as an Army general had
spoken out against brutal interrogations, issued a cautious statement to
agency employees about Mr. Holder’s announcement. He thanked C.I.A.
officers “who played a role in supporting the Justice Department’s
inquiries” and added, “As intelligence officers, our inclination, of
course, is to look ahead to the challenges of the future rather than
backwards at those of the past.”
Representative Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who is chairman of
the House Intelligence Committee, welcomed the announcement. “I am
pleased that the attorney general’s re-examination of these cases has
come to a close and that he recognizes that filing criminal charges in
these cases is inappropriate,” he said. “These intelligence officers can
now continue to focus on the hard work at hand, protecting our national
Mr. Holder’s decision in 2009 to open a new investigation into the
C.I.A. interrogations was sharply criticized by some former intelligence
officials and Republicans in Congress. The harsh interrogation methods,
including the near-drowning of waterboarding, had been authorized in
Justice Department legal opinions, and the deaths in custody had been
previously reviewed by prosecutors during Mr. Bush’s presidency.
But after reviewing secret documents describing the treatment of
prisoners, most of whom had been held in secret C.I.A. prisons overseas,
Mr. Holder directed John Durham, the organized-crime prosecutor already
looking into the C.I.A. destruction of video recordings of
waterboarding, to broaden his inquiry.
Mr. Holder said interrogators would not be charged if they had acted
strictly in accordance with the department’s legal advice, though the
legal opinions involved were later withdrawn. The review focused more
narrowly on cases in which interrogators exceeded legal guidelines,
including instances of prisoners waterboarded more often than permitted
and of one prisoner who was threatened with an electric drill.
In November 2010, the Justice Department said there would be no charges
in the destruction of the videotapes of C.I.A. interrogations. In June
2011, Mr. Holder said that of more than 100 prisoners whose treatment
had been reviewed, only the final two cases remained under investigation.
On his first full day in office in January 2009, Mr. Obama banned
coercive interrogation methods and ordered the closing of the C.I.A.’s
remaining prisons overseas. But he said that month that while he did not
“believe that anybody is above the law,” he preferred “to look forward
as opposed to looking backwards” and that he did not want C.I.A.
employees to “suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time
looking over their shoulders and lawyering.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee has largely completed its own
three-year investigation of the C.I.A. interrogation program, but its
report is still classified and its conclusions are not yet known. In
April, responding to a book by a former C.I.A. official asserting that
brutal interrogations had produced the intelligence that helped locate
Osama bin Laden, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, Dianne Feinstein, called that claim “misguided and misinformed.”
The moral and political debate over responsibility for the abuse and
death of prisoners is unlikely to be ended by Mr. Holder’s announcement.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is chairman of the
Judiciary Committee, has long called for a “truth commission” to look
into interrogation and other matters, offering immunity from prosecution
in return for candid testimony. But Mr. Obama never supported the idea,
and with prosecution all but ruled out, it seems unlikely to gain new
Ms. Massimino noted that in some other countries, the torture and death
of prisoners have been the subject of public inquiries decades after the
events. “I don’t think this is over,” she said. “I take the long view.”
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