- Posted September 1, 2012 by
Watertown, New York
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Why We Need WikiLeaks and Assange- DOJ Ends Investigation of CIA Torture and Murder
"After a three-year investigation, the Department of Justice has decided not prosecute the CIA for the deaths of two alleged terrorists abroad in the years after 9/11, due to a lack of admissable evidence."
"Margaret Warner talks to the Los Angeles Times' Ken Dilanian about the case and CIA interrogation practices."
Justice Department Ends Investigation on Alleged Use of Torture by CIA
MARGARET WARNER: Late yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced no one would be prosecuted in the last two outstanding cases involving the deaths of CIA detainees after 9/11.
His statement said, "The admissible evidence wouldn't be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt."
Three years ago, Holder launched a probe into whether any CIA personnel in secret overseas prisons exceeded the harsh interrogation techniques approved by the Justice Department in 2002 and in 2005.
The final two cases involved the 2002 death in Afghanistan of a suspected al-Qaida figure in an agency prison near Bagram Air Base and the 2003 death in Iraq of an Abu Ghraib prisoner during interrogation by CIA officers. A military autopsy ruled that a homicide.
The American Civil Liberties Union called Holder's decision nothing short of a scandal. Holder noted the larger issues around torture still aren't resolved, saying, "Our inquiry doesn't resolve broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct."
And, for more, we turn to Ken Dilanian, who covers national security for The Los Angeles Times.
And, Ken, welcome to the program.
KEN DILANIAN, The Los Angeles Times: Thank you.
MARGARET WARNER: So what's behind this decision on Eric Holder's part?
KEN DILANIAN: Well, a lot about this remains secret. This is a secret investigation of a classified operation.
But what we know is that the Justice Department is saying they just couldn't make a case here. They're not say no crime was committed. And the other thing that it's important to understand about this is that these cases were not part of the enhanced interrogation technique program that the CIA carried out.
That conduct had already been investigated. No charges were filed. And Holder had decided he wasn't going to hold anyone accountable for things they did pursuant to Justice Department legal opinions.
So these were two cases in war zones where the allegations were the conduct exceeded the boundaries of what was permissible.
MARGARET WARNER: Even under those harsh interrogation techniques about which we heard and debated so much back when they came to light.
So when he said the evidence wasn't admissible or there wasn't enough admissible evidence to sustain a conviction, what does he mean? I mean, what was wrong with the evidence they had?
KEN DILANIAN: Well, there's a lot of -- you can read between the lines of the statement. He talked about jurisdictional issues, statute of limitations. He said these crimes occurred nine or 10 years ago or these -- there were no crimes -- alleged crimes.
There is also -- in the case of Jamadi, who died at Abu Ghraib in 2003, for example, in that case, it is alleged that Navy SEALs beat him first before he was transferred to the custody of a CIA interrogator. And it's alleged -- and the reporting is that that interrogator may not have actually beaten him, but he was strung up in a way with broken ribs that causes death.
And there's a lot of question about who had custody when, and they just weren't able to make the case.
MARGARET WARNER: So you mean even -- that is the case in which the military autopsy said it was a homicide, but you are saying when you are prosecutor and you are trying to make the case, it was hard to know who was really responsible for the fatal injuries?
KEN DILANIAN: That appears to be how it shook out."
MARGARET WARNER: Now, how did these two cases -- well, first of all, does this close the book? Are these the last of the cases that the Justice Department was looking at?
KEN DILANIAN: It does.
It closes the book on the criminal investigation. Now, Senate Democrats have done an investigation of the interrogation program that remains classified. There may be something, a release on that some time this year.
That looks at the larger program and the techniques, including water-boarding and stress positions. But in terms of criminal culpability, this ends it.
MARGARET WARNER: And what was it about these two particular cases that made them survive all the other vetting and reviews that had gone on?
KEN DILANIAN: Well, I mean, there were deaths. In the one case, the death was ruled a homicide. You know, there were just so many obvious things that cried out for investigation here.
There was no legal authorization for what took place with these two men. So, I think that explains why. And the cases had been examined previously by previous Justice Department prosecutors and no evidence was found to charge a crime in that case either.
MARGARET WARNER: Now, does the CIA still have an interrogation program?
KEN DILANIAN: No. "
MARGARET WARNER: Now, what has been the reaction in the intelligence community and from the agency?
KEN DILANIAN: You know, a lot of satisfaction expressed.
People were very frustrated that these investigations went forward under the Obama administration. There was a feeling that this stuff had already been investigated, we were acting pursuant to trying to protect the American people, so a lot of gratification expressed that no charges were filed.
MARGARET WARNER: And Petraeus issued a statement, did he not?
KEN DILANIAN: It was a pretty careful statement, I thought.
But Panetta was actually more forward-leaning, Leon Panetta, the previous CIA director...
MARGARET WARNER: Yes, now defense secretary.
KEN DILANIAN: ... in announcing the last -- that no charges were filed last year in the other 100 cases.
Petraeus praised people for cooperating with the investigation.
MARGARET WARNER: And left it at that.
KEN DILANIAN: Yes.
Julian Assange Calls on Obama to End "Witch Hunt"
When you consider what the United States has done, and how there's no admissible evidence' as the DOJ has said in these and the other 100 cases of abuse, is there any question why our government wants WikiLeaks gone and Julian Assange behind bars?
We need truth from our government. And yes, most of us understand the distinction between that which was released that would cause security concerns.
But when our government uses 'National Security' to cover up murder and torture, we need WikiLeaks and men, like Assange, willing to risk the wrath of government and personal attacks and threats to bring us that truth.
Obama needs to allow the truth to be told.
'Turning the page' on lies, distortions, crimes and fraud as President Obama and our DOJ has now done with Bush's Iraq and the Financial Crisis, leaves people less willing to believe that the government is there to help them.
It also perpetuates the suspiciousness and lack of trust in our government.
Obama should 'turn the page' on WikiLeaks and Assange.
Obama should let the truth be told by these groups or better, tell the truth to Americans himself.
Had the Obama and DOJ investigations reached the logical conclusions, that faith would have been restored.
If our laws are insuffcient to prosecute those committing these crimes, then we need new laws and courts that can address them.
And War and the secrecy of our intelligence operations during war is no excuse for deviating from the principles on which our country is founded.
Torture is wrong.
Murder is wrong.
Having 'no admissible evidence' should not be an excuse for not prosecuting war criminals or those that circumvent our laws with secrecy.