Wire: Obama Admin to Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate CIA Terror Interrogations
Off the Wire:
The White House attempts to change the narrative from health care to Bush....
WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2009 -- Newswire services this afternoon reported that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has decided to appoint a prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators and contractors may have violated anti-torture laws and other statutes when they threatened terrorism suspects, according to sources.
Holder is poised to name John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the high-stakes inquiry, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete, The Washington Post said.
The Washington Post noted the following details:
Durham's mandate, the sources added, will be relatively narrow: to look at whether there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale criminal investigation of current and former CIA personnel who may have broken the law in their dealings with detainees. Many of the harshest CIA interrogation techniques have not been employed against terrorism suspects for four years or more.Holder's decision heightens the tension between leaders at the Justice Department and the intelligence community, which have clashed this year over the release of sensitive interrogation memos, military photographs of detainee abuse and how to handle the cases of more than 200 detainees at the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, The Washington Post said.
The Attorney General selected the longtime prosecutor in part because Durham is familiar with the CIA and its past interrogation regime. For nearly two years, Durham has been probing whether obstruction or false statements laws were violated in connection with the 2005 destruction of CIA videotapes. The tapes allegedly depicted brutal scenes including waterboarding of some of the agency's high value detainees. That inquiry is proceeding before a grand jury in Alexandria, though lawyers following the investigation have cast doubt on whether it will result in any criminal charges.
Word of the decision at the highest levels of the Justice Department comes on the same day that the Obama administration will issue a 2004 report by the then-CIA Inspector General. Among other things, the IG questioned the effectiveness of harsh interrogation tactics that included simulated drowning and wall slamming. A federal judge in New York forced the administration to release the secret report after a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.
A separate internal Justice Department ethics report on the professionalism of lawyers who blessed the questioning techniques continues to undergo declassification review and is not likely to be released imminently. The New York Times reported in Monday editions that the ethics report recommended that Holder take another look at several episodes of alleged detainee abuse that previously had been declined for prosecution during the Bush years, bolstering his decision to appoint a prosecutor.
This is a developing story.
See links below for details.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Holder to Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate CIA Terror Interrogations
Wire: Panetta Letter to CIA Staff on Release of Interrogation Report
Tags: Wire, Headlines, DOD, Military, War, United States, U.S., News
Global Tags: Washington DC, News and Politics, News, Politics, Current Events, Current Affairs, Life, Culture, Buzz, Tension