Justice Dept Spurns Calls to Prosecute CIA Torturers

Prosecution Abroad Possible, Experts Say

Top UN officials are just some of the many people outraged in the wake of the CIA torture report summary’s release, calling for the prosecution of US officials past and present who were implicated.

As a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture, the US is legally obliged to prosecute torturers, but despite growing pressure, there is little to no chance of that happening.

The Justice Department today insisted that they aren’t even considering reopening the criminal investigation into the torture, saying none of the revelations in the report were anything they didn’t already know years ago. Though the Justice Department previously investigated whether any of the torture was prosecutable, at the time the attorney general had already ruled out following through on anything.

That doesn’t mean the torturers are entirely off the hook, however. Rights groups and legal experts say that with so much of the torture carried out overseas, much of it still falls under the purview of those foreign courts, as well as potentially the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The US itself isn’t a participant in the ICC, and in 2002 Congress passed a law which authorized military action against the Hague to free any US government officials facing prosecution by them.

Getting the ICC involved would require a request from one of the nations that hosted US torture, like Afghanistan, who is a member of the ICC. That seems unlikely, at this point, because of diplomatic fallout.

Still, the risk of prosecution in national courts of those nations, particularly nations like Poland which have been actively prosecuting their own former officials involved in the torture, have experts saying US officials implicated should think long and hard before traveling abroad.
CIA Torture Summary (PDF)

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.