Senior Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, Zachary Katznelson, is scolding the Department of Justice for the closure:
"...of the last two open criminal inquiries into abusive interrogations by CIA officials. The pronouncement means that not a single CIA official will be prosecuted in federal courts for any of the abuse, torture or even death that took place at the hands of CIA officers and contractors..."According to the ACLU the issue involves:
"...[D]ozens of terrorism suspects [that] have been held incommunicado by the CIA in secret prisons around the world and subjected to repeated brutality in the name of extracting information. The White House and its lead legal advice team, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), approved the use of these previously illegal tactics based on profoundly flawed legal reasoning and a complete lack of interrogation or law enforcement experience..."The way the ACLU tells it:
The Department of Justice frames the issue this way:
"... CIA interrogators were told that they could waterboard suspects, even though the Reagan administration and its predecessors prosecuted Americans and others for using the tactic. Interrogators were told they could use, among other tactics, extended sleep deprivation; "stress positions" such as forced-standing, handcuffing in painful crouched positions and shackling people to the ceiling, usually for hours or even days; confining prisoners to small, coffin-like boxes with air and light cut off; extended forced nudity; sensory bombardment; extreme temperatures; hooding; and physical beatings, including slamming prisoners into walls. Each and every one of these techniques had been declared torture at some point by US courts, Israeli courts, European Courts, the UN Committee on Torture or other foreign courts. But the OLC's approval of the techniques meant the Obama Justice Department refused to investigate their use. Instead, in 2009, Attorney General Holder ordered a preliminary review of 101 cases where the CIA allegedly went even beyond the approved torture techniques. In June 2011, the Justice Department closed 99 of those cases and opened full investigations into the remaining 2, both of which involved prisoners who died while in US custody. Now, those last two investigations have also ended..."
"...On Jan. 2, 2008, Attorney General Michael Mukasey selected Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) John Durham of the District of Connecticut to conduct a criminal investigation into the destruction of interrogation videotapes by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)...On Aug. 24, 2009, based on information the Department received pertaining to alleged CIA mistreatment of detainees, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he had expanded Mr. Durham’s mandate to conduct a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations. Attorney General Holder made clear at that time, that the Department would not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees. Accordingly, Mr. Durham’s review examined primarily whether any unauthorized interrogation techniques were used by CIA interrogators, and if so, whether such techniques could constitute violations of the torture statute or any other applicable statute...In June of last year, the Attorney General announced that Mr. Durham recommended opening full criminal investigations regarding the death of two individuals while in United States custody at overseas locations, and closing the remaining matters. The Attorney General accepted that recommendation...The Attorney General announced that those two investigations conducted over the past year have now been closed..."
|U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder|
"...In reaching this determination, Mr. Durham considered all potentially applicable substantive criminal statutes as well as the statutes of limitations and jurisdictional provisions that govern prosecutions under those statutes. Mr. Durham and his team reviewed a tremendous volume of information pertaining to the detainees. That review included both information and matters that were not examined during the Department’s prior reviews. 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..."Attorney General Holder went on the record to say that:
"...During the course of his preliminary review and subsequent investigations, Mr. Durham examined any possible CIA involvement with the interrogation and detention of 101 detainees who were alleged to have been in United States custody subsequent to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He determined that a number of the detainees were never in CIA custody. Mr. Durham identified the matters to include within his review by examining various sources including the Office of Professional Responsibility’s report regarding the Office of Legal Counsel memoranda related to enhanced interrogation techniques, the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report on enhanced interrogations, additional matters investigated by the CIA Office of Inspector General, the February 2007 International Committee of the Red Cross Report on the Treatment of Fourteen ‘High Value Detainees’ in CIA Custody, and public source information..."The ACLU's Zachary Katznelson, however, is not buying the Department of Justice's "closure."
"...It is simply unacceptable that torture can be treated with impunity, no matter the goal of the torturers. Doing so gravely undermines the prohibition against torture worldwide and sends the dangerous message to US and foreign officials that there will be no consequences for future abuses...So, the ACLU is taking the long view of this struggle. Despite the Justice Department’s refusal to enforce the law, we will continue to press for true accountability – both in the United States and overseas – for the designers, facilitators, overseers and perpetrators of torture and abuse. We will continue to work for the day when officials hear a resoundingly different message than the one delivered by Attorney General Holder: 'torture and abuse are never legitimate, but if you do make the egregious error of crossing that line, fear the law, for you will be held be to account'..."Katznelson did not indicate which forms of recourse the ACLU would pursue beyond describing the action by saying:
"...[A] dark chapter in American history got that much more disgraceful..."
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