The criminal investigation of the deaths of two prisoners in CIA custody has come to a close, as the Justice Department announced on Thursday that it would not be pursuing charges against the CIA interrogators involved.
The investigation was approved over a year ago by Attorney General Eric Holder, and conducted by Justice Prosecutor John Durham. The department examined CIA interrogation tactics that allegedly lead to the deaths of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003, and at a secret Afghan prison in 2002.
“Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham has now completed his investigations, and the Department has decided not to initiate criminal charges in these matters,” Holder said in a written statement. “Our inquiry was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed and was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct.”
Had CIA officers been indicted following the probe, it would have undoubtedly sparked outrage and retaliation from Republicans and staunch supporters of national security efforts. Durham was put in place to examine around 100 different cases of possible interrogation abuses by the CIA in 2009, a decision Holder admitted was controversial at the time, as members of the Obama administration had hoped to put an end to torture allegations.
Last year, Durham found that all but two cases should not be prosecuted. On Thursday, the last two were cleared from the department’s radar.
Following the decision, CIA director David Petraeus released a statement to all CIA employees, asking them to move on now that the investigation had ended.
“As intelligence officers, our inclination, of course, is to look ahead to the challenges of the future rather than backwards at those of the past,” the statement read. “Nonetheless it was very important that we supported fully the Justice Department in its efforts.”