WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has decided not to file criminal charges in the vast majority of cases involving the CIA’s former interrogation, detention and kidnapping program.
In a statement to CIA employees on his last day as CIA director, Leon Panetta said that after examining more than 100 instances in which the CIA allegedly had contact with terrorism detainees, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham has decided that further investigation is warranted in just two cases, each resulting in deaths.
Panetta did not disclose any details about those cases, but it has been widely reported that one involves Manadel al-Jamadi, who died in 2003 at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq after he was questioned in a shower by a CIA interrogator.
“In those two cases – each involving a detainee fatality – the Department of Justice has determined that further investigation is warranted,” Panetta said.
“No decision has been made to bring criminal charges. Both cases were previously reviewed by career federal prosecutors who subsequently declined prosecution.”
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who announced the CIA probes in August 2009, followed Panetta’s announcement with a statement that confirmed the decision but did not explain it. The two detainee deaths will now be the subject of a “full criminal investigation,” he said.
“The department has determined that an expanded criminal investigation of the remaining matters is not warranted,” Holder said.
The announcements mean that no CIA officer will face criminal prosecution in connection with interrogations that the agency’s inspector general and a former Bush Justice Department official concluded exceeded what lawyers had authorized.
Panetta praised the decision not to file charges in most cases, as did Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union reiterated their disagreement, repeating their long-standing assertion that Durham should have been tasked with investigating senior officials, not just CIA interrogators. Holder said the probe was confined to the issue of whether interrogators exceeded their legal authority.