WASHINGTON – A CIA officer who allegedly used a gun to intimidate a captured al-Qaida suspect was formally disciplined for violating the agency’s rules for conducting interrogations, but Bush administration Justice Department officials ultimately declined to file charges against him, according to two former intelligence officials familiar with the case.
The officer, who has not been identified, was immediately called back to CIA headquarters to face an internal accountability board and was “reprimanded and reassigned” for committing acts outside the CIA’s legal guidelines for interrogating terrorism suspects. At the time of the 2002 incident, the guidelines permitted the use of sleep deprivation and waterboarding on some suspects, according to a former senior intelligence official who closely followed the events.
The CIA officer eventually resigned, two former agency officials confirmed Saturday.
In a separate incident, interrogators reportedly used an electric drill to intimidate al-Qaida commander Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the group’s former chief in the Persian Gulf and the alleged mastermind of the deadly USS Cole suicide bombing in 2000.
The CIA has declined to confirm whether the incidents occurred or to verify the description of the events in a classified inspector general’s report, scheduled for release Monday.
“The agency, where appropriate, took its own disciplinary action when the Department of Justice declined prosecution,” CIA spokesman George Little said Saturday.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment Saturday on the contents of the report.
The CIA disciplinary panel was convened within weeks of the officer allegedly bringing a handgun into an interrogation room at a secret detention facility in an apparent attempt to frighten al-Nashiri into believing he would be killed if he failed to cooperate, U.S. officials said.