United States will not Prosecute Anyone for Two CIA Detainee Deaths
(CN) - The United States said it will not prosecute anyone for the deaths of two prisoners in CIA custody who may have endured torture.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham cited unspecified "statutes of limitations and jurisdictional provisions" of unnamed statutes before reaching the conclusion that he could not build a successful case, according to the Department of Justice.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced that nonprosecution decision in a statement Thursday. "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," he said in the statement.
Melina Milazzo, a lawyer with Human Rights First, cast doubt on that explanation.
"It's shocking that the department's review of hundreds of instances of torture and abuse will fail to hold even one person accountable," Milazzo said in a statement.
Although Holder did not identify the dead prisoners in his statement, previous reports identify the men as Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi.
Rahman died in "near-freezing temperatures at a secret C.I.A. prison in Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit," and al-Jamadi's "corpse was photographed packed in ice and wrapped in plastic," according to The New York Times.
Extreme temperatures are hallmarks of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques," widely considered to be torture.
Milazzo noted that "torture is illegal and out of step with American values."
"Attorney General Holder's announcement is disappointing because it's well documented that in the aftermath of 9/11 torture and abuse was widespread and systematic," she said. "These cases deserved to be taken more seriously from the outset. When you don't take seriously the duty to investigate criminal acts at the beginning, resolution becomes even more difficult a decade later."
Early in his tenure, President Barack Obama put an end to waterboarding practices, but he refused to prosecute those in the Bush administration who had abused detainees domestically and abroad. In a televised interview on Jan. 11, 2009, Obama urged America to "look forward, as opposed to looking backwards."
His administration has fought off every criminal and civil effort against those who conceived, legitimated and executed detainee abuses, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
"That the Justice Department will hold no one accountable for the killing of prisoners in CIA custody is nothing short of a scandal," ACLU legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. "The Justice Department has declined to bring charges against the officials who authorized torture, the lawyers who sought to legitimate it, and the interrogators who used it. It has successfully shut down every legal suit meant to hold officials civilly liable."
While Holder's announcement spells the end for detainee abuse investigations, the Obama administration continues to prosecute a former CIA officer, John Kiriakou, for informing the public about waterboarding.
Prosecutors describe the information as a state secret, but Kiriakou's supporters call him an anti-torture whistle-blower.
Kiriakou took to Twitter on Thursday after hearing of concluded detainee cases.
"DoJ ends torture investigation with no prosecutions," he Tweeted. "CIA gets away with murder. Again."