CIA Report Spurs Review of Suspect Treatment
WASHINGTON - Revelations that U.S. interrogators threatened terror suspects with handguns and an electric drill prompted Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday to reassess whether it may be necessary to launch criminal prosecutions in some detainee abuse cases.
The threats against the detainees, who were hooded, shackled and, in some cases, naked, were detailed in a new round of documents released by the Justice Department. They included a 2004 CIA inspector general's report that found some of the agency's interrogation tactics to be "inconsistent with the public policy positions that the United States has taken regarding human rights."
A CIA officer threatened to kill the children of accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and another led the man suspected of planning the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole to believe his mother would be rounded up by a foreign intelligence service and sexually abused while he watched, the report said. The interrogator in question denied making a specific threat, it said.
None of the threats was an authorized interrogation technique, the report says.
Investigators said detaining and questioning terror suspects identified terrorist plots and developed key intelligence. However, the inspector general said it was unclear whether the "enhanced" techniques contributed to that success.
The new records were released in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The release came as the Obama administration wrestles with the legacy of the Bush administration's approval and use of interrogation techniques that President Obama has called torture.
Holder's review was announced shortly after the White House confirmed the creation of an interagency task force aimed at handling all interrogations of "high value" detainees linked to al-Qaeda and other terror groups.
The FBI-led task force will include all elements of the intelligence community "to get the best intelligence possible based on scientifically proven methods," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said. All interrogations, Burton said, will use only techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual, which does not allow the "enhanced" techniques that were sanctioned by Bush administration lawyers.
Obama doesn't favor prosecuting CIA operatives who used the enhanced techniques based on legal guidance, a White House statement said Monday. However, it noted the attorney general makes the "ultimate determinations about whether someone broke the law."
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham will lead the review of potential criminal charges, Holder said. Durham led last year's Justice review of the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations, including sessions involving waterboarding, which simulates drowning.
"Rogue interrogators" and Bush administration officials "who authorized torture or wrote the memos that were used to justify it" should be prosecuted, the ACLU said.