[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] announced Thursday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] would close its investigation [press release] into the CIA’s alleged torture and abuse of detainees, with no criminal charges to be brought as a result of the three-year inquiry. In June 2011 Holder accepted the recommendation of Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) John Durham to open full criminal investigations [JURIST report] into the deaths of two individuals while in US custody at overseas locations. The recommendation came during a criminal investigation by Durham that began in August 2009, under which he conducted an inquiry into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations. The investigation centered primarily on whether any unauthorized interrogation techniques were used by CIA interrogators and whether such techniques could constitute statutory violations of torture. As a result of the findings Holder determined that there were insufficient grounds to file criminal charges:
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.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] decried the decision [press release], accusing the DOJ of “sweeping the crimes of the Bush administration under the rug” and demanding the senior government officials be held accountable for the alleged uses of torture and any deaths that resulted from such interrogation methods.
Earlier this month the US House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee [official websites] filed a lawsuit seeking to compel Holder to produce subpoenaed documents relating to a failed arms-tracking operation [JURIST report]. The lawsuit requested that the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] order Holder to deliver a specific set of documents subpoenaed by the committee in October and withheld by Holder under an assertion of executive privilege [Cornell LII backgrounder]. In June the DOJ announced that it would not prosecute Holder after the House voted to hold him in contempt of Congress [JURIST reports] for failing to fully comply with subpoenas ordering those documents.