The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that it had closed its three-year criminal investigation of two overseas CIA interrogations without bringing any charges.
In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said, “the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The Justice Department launched a criminal investigation in 2009 over alleged mistreatment of two detainees who died in CIA custody. The investigation sought to uncover whether any unauthorized interrogation techniques were used by CIA agents in violation of federal law.
The Justice Department did not identify the two detainees who perished, but media reports claim the two were Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi.
Rahman died of hypothermia in Afghanistan in 2002 after being shackled and left half-naked in a prison cell. Manadel al-Jamadi died in Iraq in 2003 while being suspended by his wrists in a position known as “Palestinian hanging.”
Federal prosecutors previously reviewed the cases, but declined to prosecute CIA agents for their alleged roles in the deaths of the detainees. The latest investigation included information “not examined during the Department’s prior reviews,” according to Holder.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the Justice Department’s decision was “nothing short of a scandal.” The group has urged the Obama administration to prosecute Bush administration officials who were allegedly involved in the torture of detainees.
“Continuing impunity threatens to undermine the universally recognized prohibition on torture and other abusive treatment and sends the dangerous signal to government officials that there will be no consequences for their use of torture and other cruelty,” said Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director. “Today’s decision not to file charges against individuals who tortured prisoners to death is yet another entry in what is already a shameful record.”
Holder has said he would not prosecute CIA agents who complied with four legal memos written in 2002 and 2005, insisting he could not prosecute someone “for conduct sanctioned in advance.” The controversial memos authorized many so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which have been described by human rights organizations as torture.
“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,” Holder concluded.