Foreign and Defense Policy

BREAKING: Justice Department closes investigation of CIA interrogators; no charges brought

Image Credit: Ryan J. Reilly (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Image Credit: Ryan J. Reilly (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

The Justice Department just announced the closure of the final investigation into the CIA’s interrogation of terrorist detainees. With this announcement, the three-year ordeal brought about by Attorney General Eric Holder ends without the Department bringing criminal charges.

I am sure it is a pure coincidence that the administration decided to issue this announcement today, when the country is focused on Mitt Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention and a hurricane on the Gulf Coast. We’ll see how many front pages it makes tomorrow. This whole episode is a travesty, and should be a source of embarassment for Holder and the Obama administration.

Here is Holder’s statement in full:

“AUSA John Durham has now completed his investigations, and the Department has decided not to initiate criminal charges in these matters.   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.

“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.

“Mr. Durham and his team of agents and prosecutors have worked tirelessly to conduct extraordinarily thorough and complete preliminary reviews and investigations.  I am grateful to his team and to him for their commitment to ensuring that the preliminary review and the subsequent investigations fully examined a broad universe of allegations from multiple sources.  I continue to believe that our Nation will be better for it.

“I also appreciate and respect the work of and sacrifices made by the men and women in our intelligence community on behalf of this country.  They perform an incredibly important service to our nation, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do.  I asked Mr. Durham to conduct this review based on existing information as well as new information and matters presented to me that I believed warranted a thorough examination of the detainee treatment issue.

“I am confident that Mr. Durham’s thorough reviews and determination that the filing of criminal charges would not be appropriate have satisfied that need. Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed and was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct.”

He left one thing out: “To all the CIA officials who ran the Agency’s interrogation program, I’m sorry for putting you and your families through this ordeal a second time. It’s now official: You did nothing wrong.”

2 thoughts on “BREAKING: Justice Department closes investigation of CIA interrogators; no charges brought

  1. So what happens to all these people who were forced to spend untold 1000′s for nothing. Can they get this $ back and or sue for this damages for this persecution?
    Holder did this to cause them grief. In their face was his method, wait to see the other thug tactics if “O” is elected again.

  2. Mr. Thiessen should reread -slowly – a few quotes:

    “In reaching this determination, Mr. Durham considered all potentially applicable substantive criminal statutes as well as the statutes of limitations [...]”

    This first quote refers to a legal provision known as the “statute of limitations.” This is found at 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3282(a), which says “Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, no person shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for any offense, not capital, unless the indictment is found or the information is instituted within five years next after such offense shall have been committed.” The Obama administration took office on 20th January 2009. Unless it resulted in death, no act of torture prior to 20th January 2004 – even one that Mr. Thiessen himself would acknowledge as torture – could be the basis of an indictment by the new administration. In Mr. Thiessen’s bizarre mind, this means that the torturer has officially done nothing wrong.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times – but during or prior to March 2003. Due to the statute of limitations, his interrogators could have attached electrodes to his genitals, plunged his hand into boiling oil repeatedly, or committed any number of other nonlethal acts that would shock the conscience of virtually anyone in the world. But not our Mr. Thiessen, it would seem. If it happened more than five years ago, it’s hunky-dory with him.

    “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.”

    First degree murder is a capital crime, and has no statute of limitations. This quote refers to two deaths of detainees. However, there are other reasons besides time that this may not be prosecutable. The most obvious reason is the difficulty of proving intent to kill. As long as the people responsible for the deaths did not intend to kill, but merely acted with depraved indifference, it’s not first degree murder – and the statute of limitations still applies. The quote also refers to “admissible evidence.” If the police fail to obtain a valid search warrant, a gun recovered from the suspect’s home with the accused’s fingerprints on it and matched to the bullet recovered from the murder victim will not be “admissible evidence.” In Mr. Thiessen’s bizarre world, if the prosecution finds that it must let the murderer go because conviction is impossible without the gun, it is likewise official that the suspect “did nothing wrong”. One wonders whether he would feel the same way if the murder victim had been a member of his family.

    The last quote that seems to have been beyond Mr. Thiessen’s very limited reading comprehension: “Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed and was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct.” Due to rules of evidence, the statute of limitations, and other factors, not all offenses are prosecutable. This is not the same thing as a person doing nothing wrong – except in Mr. Thiessen’s very confused, if not positively dishonest, mind.

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