Attorney General Eric Holder announced Thursday that the Justice Department has closed an investigation into the deaths of two detainees held, interrogated, and allegedly tortured by the CIA, sealing the Obama administration’s legacy of impunity for Bush-era torture and prisoner abuse.
Mr. Holder said no charges will be brought “because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The investigation centered on Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi, both of whom died after being tortured by CIA interrogators. Rahman in 2002 after being shackled to a cold concrete wall in a secret CIA prison in northern Kabul, Afghanistan, known as the Salt Pit.
Jamadi died in 2003 at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq after CIA officers beat him severely, stripped him naked, put a bag over his head, cuffed his hands behind his back and chained his arms to a barred window, stretching and breaking his arms.
One witness to Jamadi’s treatment, reported Jane Mayer in The Dark Side, recalled that as Jamadi was being beaten he moaned “I’m dying, I’m dying.” To which the CIA interrogator replied, “I don’t care. You’ll be wishing you were dying.” A military autopsy later declared al-Jamadi’s death a homicide.
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the decision not to charge anyone with what was essentially the murder of two suspects was “nothing short of a scandal.”
“The Justice Department has declined to bring charges against the officials who authorized torture, the lawyers who sought to legitimate it, and the interrogators who used it. It has successfully shut down every legal suit meant to hold officials civilly liable,” Mr. Jaffer said in a statement.
“Continuing impunity threatens to undermine the universally recognized prohibition on torture and other abusive treatment,” Jaffer added.