The entrance of the CIA New Headquarters Building (NHB) of the George Bush Center for Intelligence. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
On Thursday US Attorney General Eric Holder shut down a more than three-year investigation into CIA torture and murder of detainees, with no charges being brought against anyone.
This final ignominious chapter in the Obama administration's protection of those responsible for the crimes carried out under the Bush administration concerned the CIA's torturing to death of two detainees, one in Afghanistan in 2002 and another in Iraq in 2003.
In a statement announcing that no one would be prosecuted, Attorney General Holder claimed, "admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction," adding that this conclusion had been reached following a review of "substantive criminal statutes as well as the statutes of limitations and jurisdictional provisions."
He did not say what charges had been contemplated and provided no concrete explanation of why they could not be brought.
He included in his statement an obsequious tribute to those responsible for the torture and murders carried out under the Bush administration: "I also appreciate and respect the work of and sacrifices made by the men and women in our intelligence community on behalf of this country. They perform an incredibly important service to our nation, and they often do so under difficult and dangerous circumstances. They deserve our respect and gratitude for the work they do."
Incredibly, Holder also praised the Justice Department's investigation: "I continue to believe that our Nation will be better for it," adding that the probe "was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct."
In other words, after three years of investigation, the Obama administration has not only granted full impunity to those involved in the crimes of rendition, torture and murder carried out under Bush. It has failed to even issue a ruling on the "propriety" of torturing detainees to death. The clear implication is that the US government and legal system sanction such practices, and they will continue.
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a blistering criticism of Holder's announcement, summing up what it called the "shameful record" of the Obama administration in protecting those responsible for the crimes carried out in the so-called global war on terrorism.
"That the Justice Department will hold no one accountable for the killing of prisoners in CIA custody is nothing short of a scandal," ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement. "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."
The action, Jaffer continued, "sends the dangerous signal to government officials that there will be no consequences for their use of torture and other cruelty."
Thursday's announcement is the final installment in the Obama administration's continuous retreat from any effort to hold anyone accountable for torture under the Bush administration.
This began with the granting of immunity to those who directed and oversaw torture from the White House--including Bush, Cheney, former CIA Director George Tenet, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and ex-Justice Department officials, like Jay Bybee and John Yoo, who drafted memos arguing that torture was legal.
In June of last year, Holder announced that the investigation of CIA torture had been reduced to a probe involving the deaths of the two men, effectively ending any broader consideration of CIA crimes committed at its secret "black sites" and infamous prisons such as Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram.
While the Justice Department refused to name the two victims, their identity has been widely reported. The first was Gul Rahman, a young man abducted in Pakistan and dragged to a secret Afghan prison known as the "Salt Pit," where he was beaten and chained to a concrete floor without blankets. He froze to death in 2002.