Pressure Mounts For Torture Prosecutions

The Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility has recommended reopening approximately a dozen prisoner-abuse cases for investigation, potentially exposing CIA employees and government contractors such as Blackwater to prosecution for torture.  This recommendation comes just before the Department is set to disclose additional details on prisoner abuse gathered from a 2004 CIA inspector general report.

According to the New York Times, the recommendation to review the closed cases centers mainly on allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and represents about half of the cases initially investigated and referred to the Justice Department by the CIA inspector general.  Some of the information revealed how CIA officers and contractors carried out mock executions and threatened detainees with guns and power drills.  The federal torture statute prohibits threatening a prisoner with imminent death.

The internal ethics investigation focused not only on a series of legal opinions authored by the Bush administration Justice Department that justified the use of torture, but also how those opinions were carried out in the field.  In that process ethics investigators found misconduct serious enough to warrant renewed criminal investigations. 

Interestingly, the cases referred to for investigation in the ethics investigation do not center on the now well-publicized interrogations and waterboarding of high-level al Qaeda suspects.  With the revelations from the Justice Department’s ethics report and further disclosures from the 2004 CIA inspector general report, a new investigation could easily include those torture allegations as well.

Attorney General Holder has been candid about his belief that previous Department of Justice investigations of these cases were less than thorough, and there has never been any public explanation as to why the Justice Department has yet to bring charges in at least two dozen abuse cases already referred to federal prosecutors in Virginia.  These back-to-back disclosures may accelerate that process.  According to the New York Times, former government lawyers acknowledged that some detained died during the interrogation process, but prosecutors had decided that prosecutions would not likely succeed due to mishandled evidence and an inability to locate witnesses and victims.  It is unknown at this time just how the ethics report handles these spoliation allegations.

Attorney General Holder has walked this tight rope since his confirmation, although the ethics report and the additional information disclosed in the CIA report certainly makes that rope narrower.  At times the Obama administration has appeared to give mixed signals on both proceeding with investigations as well as abandoning the policy and precedent set by the Bush administration.  These new morsels of information may explain why. 

That’s because what the public is witnessing is the evolution of an investigation, a process rarely exposed to the kind of daylight afforded to the torture issue.  With each new revelation it becomes clearer that a prosecutor will be appointed.  Bush administration attorneys who developed the torture program have already been recommended for disbarment by their respective state bar associations.  There’s growing momentum to impeach Judge Bybee.  And now the Department has made the case for possible prosecutions of employees and contractors.  Inch by inch, brick by brick, Attorney General Holder is building his case.  Let’s just hope that by now it’s not too late and the damage done by the previous administration too great to see justice served.

photo courtesy of takomabibelot via Flickr


Bill Reese
Bill Reese7 years ago

Harold, I seem to be the only one putting my discussion on the blog for all to see, but that is okay as I am not ashamed of anything I post. I see you wrote to me the following, "As I had stated in a previous email to you, the oath of office does not include the word "government." It states that we will protect and defend our Constitution from our enemies, foreign and domestic, which includes our own government when it iself becomes a tyrannical dictatorship as it has become now, a fascist state that you seem to support. Again, Heil Hitler!! Perhaps one day you might do something wrong, and then you will be taken away and tortured or worse."
My answer to your statement is that you do not realize the full depth of what "Hitler and the Nazis" really did, I see many people throwing around those two words as if someone in this country was like them. Forget it, there has never been anyone even remotely as terrible as " Hitler, Nazis, or Stalin" There have been a few wanta be's in the world but none close to those three in dasteredly deeds.

As to our constitution, I feel that I am a constitutionalist, and it was not President Bush that started to trod upon the finish document ever written. I am not sure I am old enough to name the first one, I think My father thought it was Wilson, but I was too young to understand when my father talked abou it. The next was FDR when he called the constitution an "out moded scrap of paper" and then proceeded to try and load another

Bill Reese
Bill Reese7 years ago

Harold you wrote, "You seem not to want to consider many of the facts that I have mentioned. You skip over them as if they do not exist. Here are the facts:" I ask what facts? you have presented very few, only your opinions and I respect others opinions, but not statements that are presented as factual.

Yes! I do question your facts, as you do not tell us where they come from. You say the majority of “Prisoners were completely innocent Victims”. Were any of them tortured? (even using your mild usage of the word). I did not mention the word Muslim in my writing; however, many were of the Muslim faith. How many were waterboarded? How many were told that the shots in the next cell were their comrades. Where are you coming up with all these wild accusations without a shred of verifiably? Or are you just following the Democratic line?

Harold, I assume this next paragraph is just your opinion. You wrote,, “ As I had mentioned in a previous email, I do not support any soldier who, when ordered to fight an illegal war of aggression for world domination and for control of a country's energy resources, such as Iraq's oil and natural gas reserves, follows immoral and unethical orders that involves the murder of innocent civilians, men, women, and especially children, and who commits genocide in the bargain (well over 1500 thousand Iraqis are now dead as a result of our illegal invasion of their country).” Please tell us how much oil the US stole?

Bill Reese
Bill Reese7 years ago

It is really sad to see this story turn into a hate Cheney thread. What about the Marines and Soldiers that the interrogation save or helped to obtain information. No one of these Hate Cheney people care one dit if an American lost his life for lack of information from a terrorist by the CIA, they are only for the almighty political status. We should send Holder into Afganistan and not question any prisoners that are captured in his area before we read the Al Quada his Miranda rights. What farce Obama has turned our justice system into. May Obama should be sent to Afganistan for a tour of duty also beside Mr, Holder.

What I have seen of torture techniques by the CIA do not hold a candle to the N.K. or NKV, of the past. How about the Japanese in WWII, or the Germans in the concentration camps with the Jews. When we complain about waterboarding, we are really stretching for what we call torture. When we demand our military to read some terrorist captured his miranda rights, we are a truly sick nation.

We are more worried about someones feeling, than we are about having a terrorist kill one of our sons. Stand up military families, our nation has gone banana's..

May God Bless all mankind, and look over our military, not the bums that want to kill Americans.

Bill Reese
Bill Reese7 years ago

We must first define the word torture, the idea of a threat as being torture is stupid, the idea that waterboarding is torture is also stupid. All of those that are pounding the drums for prosecution are the same ones that want to see our young military people killed for lack of information from the enemy. When we want our troops to read a terrorist his Miranda Rights, befroe shooting him is assinine. You hate mongers need to go off on an Island and let the CIA do its job, as it did with the full approval of the DOJ. If we open up this can of worms then we are opening up the CIA programs that kept you safe from other terrorist attacks. If you hate the prior administration so much take your hate out on them not on the CIA that did their job and did it well. Thank you, May God Bless even you people with the all the hate for your fellow saviours. Also may God Bless all mankind as we do not seem to want to help or save ourselves.

David K.
David K7 years ago

Just because they're in the CIA doesn't mean they should get away with murder. Too many government organizations do

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W7 years ago

While the lesser intellects here are distracted by the shiny objects in this desperate side-show, Obama quietly re_authorized extraordinary rendition yesterday:

That's where the real torture takes place, not the pretend stuff everybody here is hyperventilating over.

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W7 years ago

"Jeffery W. I hesitate to write this since most of your comments on many of the topics today have just been going on and on and on but there is no substance and for that matter very little facts."

I did add the all-important fact that these cases had already been reviewed by career DOJ prosecutors, who saw no reason to prosecute except for one private contractor, and thoroughly reviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Now political appointees have chosen to rehash this at a particularly tough time for Obama.

What facts did you present?

Amena A.
Amena Andersson7 years ago

Harold M., well said. We must prosecute. And, Bush, Cheney, Yoo and the rest of the cadre must be included. They should go to prison for treason, imho. But, to not prosecute at all puts the onus on us.

Gene W.
Gene W7 years ago

Mr. Mann would have been 18 years old in 1945 when the first of the Nurenburg trials were held and they were completed in 1946 not 1947. The trials held at Nurenberg in 1947 were held by the USA and not the other allies and held in the same court which was in the US area. I just have a real disbelief in a person that would claim that the threats made against terrorist is anywhere equivalent to the SS or Gestapo in Nazi Germany. Stop with the bs from Greece.I think that the prosecution/investigation of the CIA agents will do nothing but make us more vulnerable to attack as we were before 9/11 when no other intel org would give info to the U.S. No we are not above the law but we have to allow someone to decide when the law allows an activity and when it does not, and upon the decision a person following a directive which is not ambiguous should not be prosecuted. No terrorist were loaded on an airliner and flown into a mud shack to their deaths. Go ahead and blame the ones on the wall that keep you safe in your beds at night.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L7 years ago

Jeffery W. I hesitate to write this since most of your comments on many of the topics today have just been going on and on and on but there is no substance and for that matter very little facts.

You obviously just want to shout and be right damn the facts. Interestingly there are many like you on the talk news shows.

Grow up Jeffery. You know not of what you speak.