It appears unlikely that Congress will push to prosecute CIA officials for their role in the Detention and Interrogation Program that tortured suspected terrorists between 2002 and 2006.
Many lawmakers have seemed opposed to prosecuting the men and women who carried out the brutal interrogation techniques described in the recently released CIA Senate torture report.
“Speaking as a former prosecutor, I think it’s very difficult to make a case against someone who is following the advice of the Justice Department, even if the legal advice was flawed,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee who supported the release of the Senate panel’s report.
The Justice Department stated last week that it would not re-open the investigation it concluded five years ago, according to NBC News.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) spoke on NBC's Meet the Press and was asked whether or not there should be prosecutions.
“The Justice Department has been clear, with respect to that, that there aren't going to be," said Senator Wyden. "I hope they'll review the new facts.” He added that he was “especially troubled by [CIA director] John Brennon, on Thursday, really open[ing] the door for the possibility of torture being used again.”
However, McClatatchy DC reports that a key treaty that the United States has signed requires that officials be accountable for torture.
The 1984 Convention Against Torture “lets no one off the hook – neither the tortures themselves, nor the policymakers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders,” proclaimed Zeid Raad al Hussein, the UN's high commissioner for human rights.
Ben Emmerson, the U.N. special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights, called for criminal accountability.
“It is no defense for a public official to claim that they were acting on superior orders,” he said. “CIA officers who physically committed acts of torture bear individual criminal responsibility for their conduct and cannot hide behind the authorization they were given by their superiors.”