August 24th, 2009
03:06 PM ET
9 years ago

Justice asks prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogation

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Justice Department has asked federal prosecutor John Durham to examine whether CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists were illegal, a source told CNN.

Related: Prosecutor to investigate CIA interrogations, source says

Full statement from the Justice Department after the jump



“The Office of Professional Responsibility has now submitted to me its report regarding the Office of Legal Counsel memoranda related to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. I hope to be able to make as much of that report available as possible after it undergoes a declassification review and other steps. Among other findings, the report recommends that the Department reexamine previous decisions to decline prosecution in several cases related to the interrogation of certain detainees.

“I have reviewed the OPR report in depth. Moreover, I have closely examined the full, still-classified version of the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report, as well as other relevant information available to the Department. As a result of my analysis of all of this material, I have concluded that the information known to me warrants opening a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations. The Department regularly uses preliminary reviews to gather information to determine whether there is sufficient predication to warrant a full investigation of a matter. I want to emphasize that neither the opening of a preliminary review nor, if evidence warrants it, the commencement of a full investigation, means that charges will necessarily follow.

“Assistant United States Attorney John Durham was appointed in 2008 by then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations. During the course of that investigation, Mr. Durham has gained great familiarity with much of the information that is relevant to the matter at hand. Accordingly, I have decided to expand his mandate to encompass this related review. Mr. Durham, who is a career prosecutor with the Department of Justice and who has assembled a strong investigative team of experienced professionals, will recommend to me whether there is sufficient predication for a full investigation into whether the law was violated in connection with the interrogation of certain detainees.

“There are those who will use my decision to open a preliminary review as a means of broadly criticizing the work of our nation’s intelligence community. I could not disagree more with that view. The men and women in our intelligence community perform an incredibly important service to our nation, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do. Further, they need to be protected from legal jeopardy when they act in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance. That is why I have made it clear in the past that the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees. I want to reiterate that point today, and to underscore the fact that this preliminary review will not focus on those individuals.

“I share the President’s conviction that as a nation, we must, to the extent possible, look forward and not backward when it comes to issues such as these. While this Department will follow its obligation to take this preliminary step to examine possible violations of law, we will not allow our important work of keeping the American people safe to be sidetracked.

“I fully realize that my decision to commence this preliminary review will be controversial. As Attorney General, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law. In this case, given all of the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take.”


Filed under: CIA • Eric Holder
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. Beech

    I knew this day would come when Democrats would want to prosecute the people who protected us.

    August 24, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. tigerakabj

    What? Only 2 sentences CNN?

    This is just the same when indicators pointed to a sudden drop in unemployment. You won't report at lengt good news for Obama (or bad news for Bush).

    All I can say is, "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT."

    Be prepared to be buried come 2010-2012 GOP. No amount of Cheney cable tour (I expect to see him and his daughter Liz shortly) is going to keep the truth from coming out about the last 8 years. Your boy Tom Ridge already fessed up that Bushco raised the terror alert right before the election.

    August 24, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  3. Bob of Lompoc

    Go for it ! About time.

    August 24, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. phoenix86

    This is the administration's and liberal playbook. Demonize your opponent to avoid the spotlight on what you are doing.

    Step 1: Demonize Bush.
    Step 2. Demonize Palin.
    Step 3. Demonize the public for questioning healthcare.
    Step 4. Repeat Step 1.

    Pretty pathetic, but apparently effective for now.

    August 24, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    No one is above the law!

    August 24, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. rob

    Let the games begin. Watch for the cherry-picked details to be leaked without context and without the ability for the people involved to defend themselves.

    Good for Penetta, he seems to be fighting back but his days on this job are numbered.

    August 24, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Melissa

    You mean they'll actually prosecute some of these criminals? Good.

    August 24, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Idiot_Pelosi

    Can someone investigate the OBAMA administration?

    August 24, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Ken

    Go get 'em, Eric. Track down what's really going on.

    And by the way, we've heard from a lot of neo-nuggets that say Holder and Obama should read the constitution. These constitutional psudo-scholars like to imply that the administration is doing things that are unconstitutional. Well, just what is it that is so uncontitutional? Come on you hypocrits that deem yourselves such strict constructionists........just WHAT, specifically, is unconstitutional? Or are you pinheads thinking like your neo-activist puppets on the Supreme'll just 'read' the constitution to say what you want it to mean. You rightwing drama queens, who so easily and carelessly use the word 'unconstitutional' when it comes to this administration, and who sat in dumb worshipful silence when truly questionable actions were being taken during the previous regime, are a pathetic joke to true conservatives.

    August 24, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. bam

    Good. If the Bush administration participated in illegal activities they should be held accountable. Otherwise, what's the point of the law?

    August 24, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. TN for Obama

    If they did anything illegal – Blame it on Clinton!!!!!!!

    August 24, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. southerncousin

    This is going to backfire on the obmatrons. These people are heroes and some goofy lib wants to make them criminal.

    August 24, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    And the suicidal superpower continues to pamper and encourage those who want to destroy it.

    (Good Job, CIA. You guys are the best! Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.)

    August 24, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. JB - NYC

    Goodbye security.. Operation sinking polls smokescreen in effect..
    This is an act of treason.

    August 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Bluebonnet

    For crying out loud! Leave it be! Those nasty people were/are trying to kill Americans!!!

    August 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Kevin in Ohio

    Let the witch-hunt begin. Holder is an unpatriotic, socialist, and arrogant member of the radical left-wing elitists. If it were up to him, all terrorists would get a welcome-home party like the one we just witnessed in Libya.

    August 24, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Obama Victim

    Obozo is not going to stop until we have a few bombs go off in this country

    August 24, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  18. Liberal4Obama

    What took them so long? It was about time Bush and Cheneys many war crimes were investigated.

    August 24, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Haas

    Don't forget to throw Cheney and Rumsfeld into that investigation.

    August 24, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Mark

    And the dominoes begin to fall.

    August 24, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Mark

    This administration wants to prosecute CIA agents but refuses to prosecute the black panthers that were intimidating voters at a Penn. voting poll. Our country is heading in a terrible direction.

    August 24, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Larry from RI

    Those of you who support torture are no better than our enemies and should be regarded as such!

    Where is your moral high ground when the same is done to our kids?

    What could you possibly say against such brutality when you are cut from the same cloth as the barbarians?

    What separates you from these animals?


    August 24, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Luke

    More reasons why Obama is and will continue to be the worst President since Carter.

    August 24, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "Watch for the cherry-picked details to be leaked without context"

    You mean like the Sotomayor quotes the GOP threw in everyone's faces for weeks on end?

    August 24, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. Typical Republican

    NO way...Torturing people is an American tradition. How dare anyone call for morals or ethics from our elected officials.

    We need to do things the republican way, void of morals and as corrupt as possible. We don't want to have any honor or integrity. It's not our way.

    Long live the republican way of doing things: WRONG and FAILURE oriented!

    August 24, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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