Clean Slate: Holder Ends Last Torture Investigation Without Charges

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced late last week that the Administration had finally fulfilled the promise of President Barack Obama when, soon after taking office, he promised CIA employees that no one would be charged with torture despite his acknowledgement that water boarding is clearly torture under domestic and international law. Holder announced that the final investigation into deaths of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2002 and 2003 respectively would not result in a single charge of any kind. Recently, John Cusack published an interview with me where we discussed the abandonment of core civil liberties principles as well as the expansion of unilateral executive power under President Obama. Now, just before the uncontested Democratic nomination convention, the Administration is reminding civil libertarians that it stands firmly on blocking the prosecution of what is widely viewed as war crimes by the U.S. After the creation of a comprehensive and premeditated torture program, not a single person will be charged despite acknowledged waterboarding and deaths of detainees. The Department did say that it was uncertain of the “propriety of the examined conduct.” War crimes is now a matter of uncertain “propriety.”

Thus, with little more than a whimper, a three-year investigation of torture came to a predictable and disgraceful end. The Justice Department simply announced “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 latest questions of propriety involve the deaths of Gul Rahman in 2002 after he was shackled to a concrete wall in near-freezing temperatures in the famous CIA-ran “Salt Pit.” He was suspected of being a militant. The other case is Manadel al-Jamadi who died in 2003 at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

In a truly spellbinding moment, Holder blames the “statutes of limitations and jurisdictional provisions.” Of course, it was the Justice Department that delayed prosecution and the military that botched an investigation in a way that made prosecution difficult.

However, there is going to be one prosecution. Former CIA official John C. Kiriakou, is awaiting trial on criminal charges after disclosing information on the torture programs and those who committed the torture.

Source: NY Times

67 thoughts on “Clean Slate: Holder Ends Last Torture Investigation Without Charges”


    WOW !! There are more Very interesting paragraphs in this article.

    Eight of those interviewed were handed over to Libya in 2004 — the same year then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a public rapprochement with Gadhafi and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell signed a major exploration deal off the Libyan coast, the HRW report noted. The remaining six were transferred to Libya over the two following years.

    The report also calls into question Libyan claims that one figure handed over by the Americans, Ibn el-Sheikh al-Libi, committed suicide in a Libyan prison. Al-Libi was held in U.S. secret prisons for years after 2001 and gave information under torture by the Egyptians that the Bush administration used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq but was later discredited. After his handover, Libyan authorities said he hanged himself in his cell. But HRW researchers said they were shown photos of his body that showed signs of torture.

  2. Arthur Randolph Erb: Absolutely correct. Couldn’t agree more.

    Waldo: >”I don’t think it’s quite that simple or clear.”<
    Of COURSE it is. You tie me down and run water up my nose, it's torture. You place me in a stress position for two hours, that's torture. You deny me sleep for days on end, that's torture. You play hip-hop at earsplitting volume for hours on end, that's torture. There's nothing arcane about that. And if you are one of the people that POURS the water or has their hand on the volume switch, YOU ARE CULPABLE. As I stated earlier, we decided at Nuremburg that following orders was not a defense. Therefore the PFC is as culpable as the President who ordered the torture.

  3. Woody:

    “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”

    Admissible evidence
    Ya gotta watch every word.

    Shades of GITMO, where the torture/enhanced-friendly-chats of detainees is inadmissible as it would expose classified techniques.

    Videos of Gul Rahman or Manadel al-Jamadi being tortured to death would be inadmissible as they would reveal classified enhanced-chatting-with techniques, and thereby endanger the security of the US.

    Somewhere, someone noted that if such techniques were actually highly classified, then it a very serious matter indeed to divulge them to prisoners.

    Hey! What if….
    Instead of prosecuting torturers for torturing, why not prosecute them for revealing classified interrogation techniques to the enemy?

  4. How so, Arthur? Torture is torture no matter WHO actually performs it. The Nuremburg Trials established the legal concept of ‘obeying orders is no excuse’ for crimes like torture.

    I don’t think it’s quite that simple or clear. I can’t remember the exact legal standard, but recall that it’s a much stricter standard than simply whether or not the order was illegal. I believe it has to be something like a “manifestly” or “clearly” illegal order. In other words, if it’s an illegal order but wasn’t clearly so to reasonable person, then obeying “obeying orders” is a legal excuse. I also agree with Arthur, there’s something very troubling to me to prosecute low level guys who are following orders, but not go after the guys who are in charge and gave the orders. In my personal culpability scale, the higher up you are, the more I feel you’re responsible and deserve to be held accountable.

    Now, none of this would protect low level guys who exceeded their orders in torturing detainees. As I recall, guys like that were the only ones who were ever even being considered for prosecution by Obama administration. My speculation is that the facts would be gray enough, that going after even these guys would be extremely politically unpopular.

    1. I would be more impressed with those who criticize the DoJ ruling, if those who are lawyers would institute disbarment procedings against the lawyers who authorized the torture. In particular, Yoo should be facing charges along with all the other lawyers who signed off on this. In short, to the critics, put your butt where your mouth is. If you cannot do that, then you are guilty of the same turning a blind eye you accuse the DoJ of.

      This will not cost the taxpayers a dime and I always thought it was the obligation of the bar to police its own. It is also quite possible politically and for administrative civil service order. It will not subject those who follow in good faith orders from their superiors to retribution when administrations change. It is also incredible that Yoo is teaching people who want to be lawyers. Though I have to also express outrage that Bernadine Dohrn is doing the same. It does not bode well for the ethincs of the legal profession to have these two as legal professors.

      I hope to read in the papers that Yoo is being disbarred soon. THEN I will have some hope that other higher ups will be charged.

Comments are closed.