Toward the end of last month, WaPo and other newspapers reported how the Department of Justice, after re-investigating 101 cases, found only 2 CIA-custody deaths that are still possibly worth pursuing as criminal cases. The Agency is relieved but still unsettled over the stress of criminal investigations being conducted (yet again) when they had tread carefully to insure that everything they were doing in the EIT program was legally covered.
“It’s good that he’s narrowed things down to two cases,” the former CIA official said. “On the other hand, he’s been looking at these cases for two years and all he can say is they need more investigating? It’s draining on people involved. On resources. We need some sort of finality.”
Human rights groups and the ACLU are disappointed and bewildered as to how the DoJ is refusing to prosecute any CIA personnel, let alone Bush & company, only bothering to pursue a look into “any unauthorized” interrogation techniques overseas- not the ones used and approved of in the CIA EIT program. After all, didn’t President Obama and Holder call what the CIA did to detainees under the EIT program as constituting “torture”?
During the Bush administration, career prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia conducted an exhaustive inquiry into allegations of abuse in the CIA program and decided against prosecutions in all but one case (a CIA contractor, not in the official interrogation program, who was later convicted of assault). The prosecutors drafted “declination memos” explaining precisely why they decided not to pursue charges. Not only did Holder, a political appointee, overrule the decisions of these career prosecutors, according to The Post, “Before making his decision to reopen the cases, Holder did not read detailed memos that prosecutors drafted and placed in files to explain their decision to decline prosecutions” (emphasis added).
Holder charged ahead over the vigorous objections of seven former CIA directors, who declared in a letter to President Obama that “Holder’s decision to re-open the criminal investigation creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy for those whose cases the Department of Justice had previously declined to prosecute” and “will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country.” Joining their objections was Obama’s then-CIA director, Leon Panetta, who reportedly made his views known in a “profanity-laced screaming match” at the White House.
None of this deterred Holder from pursuing his ideologically driven crusade against the CIA’s interrogators. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Holder had told the left-wing American Constitution Society that “our government authorized the use of torture” and promised the crowd, “We owe the American people a reckoning.” Now — after two years of wasted resources and untold grief for these dedicated intelligence officers — Holder has come up empty. The special prosecutor he assigned to deliver that day of “reckoning” came to the same conclusion as the career prosecutors under the Bush administration: Further investigation of the CIA’s interrogation program “is not warranted.”
And what about the two leftover cases involving the death of two detainees who were never a part of the CIA’s EIT program?
The two remaining cases reportedly involve a detainee who froze to death in his cell in Afghanistan in 2002 and another who died in American custody in Iraq in 2003. As Panetta noted in a statement last week, “Both cases were previously reviewed by career federal prosecutors who subsequently declined prosecution.” According to former senior intelligence officials I spoke with, both were battlefield detentions that took place early in the war, and neither had anything to do with the CIA’s interrogation program.
Thiessen concludes his piece with a lament on the lives of CIA heroes whose lives and careers have been negatively affected and ruined by these drawn out, repeat investigations and the slanderous charges made by so-called “human rights” groups, shaping anti-American public opinion and perceptions about the CIA, the Bush Administration, and our country.
The controversy will not end as a new book by former CIA officer Glenn L. Carle is slated to hit the bookstores this summer, focused on his interrogation of al-Qaeda suspect, Pacha Wazir.