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. Doug, New Jersey

    If Obama and his crew are going to introduce the terrorists to the Chicago thug tactics they have used on their opposition that got them to where they are today, I'm all for it.

    The terrorists will surely talk if ACORN were to do to them the same things they are doing now to tax paying honest Americans at townhall meetings, heck just send over Obama's crew that was patrolling the voting places in Philadelphia, they will scare the terrorists into talking.

    August 24, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  2. Typical Republican

    Darn...these domestic terrorists that torture people in illegal ways....are HEROES. ALL my heroes are unethical dirt bags. I'm a Republican, and only dirt bags can be heroes for us...because we have very low standards and absolutely no honor!

    August 24, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  3. Chris ~ Albany, NY

    Righties wanted to hold Clinton accountable for something that only effected him and his family. It's only right that we hold Bush and his administration accountable for something that has effected much of the world we now live in!

    August 24, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  4. Bob

    It's about time!! Now, while we're at it, let's prosecute the other war criminals from the Bush administration. If we don't do it, this issue will never be put to rest. It will continue to fester and we will have forever forfeited any moral authority we might have had. Either we're a country of laws or we're not. Only Mr. Holder can show us which alternative is valid.

    August 24, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Kate in SW Fla

    It is a preliminary review, based upon a report submitted by the prosecutor named by Mukasey, a guy appointed by Bush. There is NOTHING in here that says they are going to prosecute anyone. Once the DOJ get the recommendation, again, the process was started under Bush, they HAVE to act on it. It was the DOJ under Bush that acted UNconstitutionally. We need to follow laws, else what good are they? I predict a handslap and then moving on. Please, do not read more into this than what is there. never see any comments on these blogs that are moderate, it is either Bush was the devil or Obama is. Geez, what a bunch of hate.

    August 24, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. Nagudcm Sugna

    Yep... Divert attention from liberal failure by bringing up the standard smoke screen. Libs just love the mention of crushing the past administration and the CIA. What a bunch of followers.

    August 24, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. Pete

    Torture is illegal under existing US code. Mock executions are specifically forbidden in numerous federal statutes as well as the UN Convention Against Torture that Ronald Reagan signed making the US bound by such rules.

    I'm sure the same people justifying torture as official US policy would have been LOUDLY defending the Japanese internment during WWII. Ends justify the means, eh what kids?

    August 24, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. D. Tree

    I hope they go after the guys who wrote those memos, rather than the officers who followed their orders.

    August 24, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. Typical Republican

    Darn you Obama, read the constitution. I mean, I'm not saying to follow it, unless it's to our advantage. If it's not, then by all means break it and don't follow it. Who cares about signed documents and stuff when it's not in the republican playbook to follow those rules. We just want to be absolute morons and hypocritically cherry pick when we are supposed to follow the laws.....because we are republicans and have no ability to maintain honor for longer then 20 seconds a year.

    August 24, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. Alfred E. Neumann

    And while your at it, how about taking a look at the John Murtha Airport.

    Twenty million dollars for 20 people a day?

    August 24, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. David

    We deserve what we get when we allow our government to place a higher value on the rights of a terrorist over the safety of its own people. Maybe we can offer them free healthcare in exchange for information.

    August 24, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. katiec

    Do think we must demand the people behind these dispicable acts be prosecuted also. And, what's this with "private contractors" being
    put in the position of interrorgating??
    There are numerous national laws, guidelines against extreme cruelty, whatever the circumstances. Our leadership had stooped to the
    level we condemn in others. For far too long there has been the
    attitude of do as I say, not as I do. Bending the laws and ignoring
    our constitution.
    EVERYONE involved should be held accountable.
    This is not the foundation of the United States of America.

    August 24, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. independent

    Let's see what runs out from under the rocks.

    August 24, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. Farrell in Houston

    Americans don't torture people and I personally don't want to be recognized around the world that way and neither should you. Everyone has a responsibility to uphold the laws that's why we put serial killers and others alike away. A uniform or job title doesn't give anyone the right to torture.

    August 24, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  15. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Horrors! The CIA threatened a terrorist with a gun! But, no one was actually shot. And, the CIA threatened a terrorist with an electric drill! But, no one was actually drilled.

    This is Leon Panneta's chance to stick up for the agency that has done so much to protect this country over the past six decades. Who's the real enemy here?

    August 24, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. katiec

    Of course CNN will not give it much attention.
    After all, we all talking about their republican politicians!

    August 24, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. NJ Jim

    I think it was Ben Franklin who said, "...He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." Torture is not an American value. Let's find out the truth and make sure that the culpability goes up the ladder and not to just the practitioners, if indeed torture was used on detainees.
    We are a nation of laws. Let's follow them.

    August 24, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Rob

    Way to go Obama Administration! Turn everyone against each other. Ruin America's ability to effectively gather and distribute intelligence. Destroy national security. Then, after 2013, when you have left the White House in a disgraceful 1 ond only term, and we are attacked again thanks to your witch hunt against America, you and your fellow libs can turn around and blame the Republican president for not keeping the country safe.

    You're living up to the phrase "Those who can, do. Those who really can't become liberals"

    August 24, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. Johnny

    I'm a veteran and believe the techiques was unlawful.
    If law could be changed so easily, why have them?
    But, honestly I would rather forget about the violations than
    see a group of soldiers or low level people go to jail.

    August 24, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. Fort Lauderdale

    I agree that this scheme is designed to detract attention from Obama's troubled policies and falling popularity. It is especially engineered to steer media coverage away from the growing messes in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought Obama was not going to look back. Now, he would rather people looked back than take a good, hard look at him and his policies.

    August 24, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. shmeckel

    Don’t tie the hands of our national security.

    August 24, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Ezra

    My days of witholding contempt for Obama and his minions is over. At first I thought how bad can he be for our country but now there is not doubt he has sowed the seeds of division and we are becoming more divisive daily. My question is do you think this is purposeful? Clinton was good and hitting middle ground to earn respect from all parties and it is not going to happen we Obama. In the end I do not think he be a Jr. clerk to Clinton or Reagan much less Bush.

    August 24, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  23. arrest bush

    Its about time the criminals from the last eight years get shown for what they are. law breaking thugs. throw them in jail, starting with Bush and Cheney!

    August 24, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. victim of republican greed

    The right wingnut playbook never changes:

    1. Demonize Obama
    2. Demonize elected democrats
    3. Demonize anyone who is not a wealthy white
    4. Lie, lie, lie, and lie some more

    Pretty pathetic for a once respected political party.

    August 24, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. RAG

    Finally! America can now begin the slow and painful process of getting it honor back. I hope they try the master-minds in addition to those who were "just obeying orders"!

    August 24, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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