Friday, July 22, 2011

CIA exhales: 99 out of 101 torture cases dropped...,

Wired | This is how one of the darkest chapters in U.S. counterterrorism ends: with practically every instance of suspected CIA torture dodging criminal scrutiny. It’s one of the greatest gifts the Justice Department could have given the CIA as David Petraeus takes over the agency.

Over two years after Attorney General Eric Holder instructed a special prosecutor, John Durham, to “preliminar[ily] review” whether CIA interrogators unlawfully tortured detainees in their custody, Holder announced on Thursday afternoon that he’ll pursue criminal investigations in precisely two out of 101 cases of suspected detainee abuse. Some of them turned out not to have involved CIA officials after all. Both of the cases that move on to a criminal phase involved the “death in custody” of detainees, Holder said.

But just because there’s a further criminal inquiry doesn’t necessarily mean there will be any charges brought against CIA officials involved in those deaths. If Holder’s decision on Thursday doesn’t actually end the Justice Department’s review of torture in CIA facilities, it brings it awfully close, as outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta noted.

“On this, my last day as Director, I welcome the news that the broader inquiries are behind us,” Panetta wrote to the CIA staff on Thursday. “We are now finally about to close this chapter of our Agency’s history.”