The Justice Department has closed an investigation into the deaths of two detainees in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan without bringing any criminal charges.
Attorney General Eric Holder said prosecutors had declined to proceed “because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The decision brings to a close more than two years of investigation by veteran Connecticut prosecutor John Durham and a special team of federal agents who worked alongside him. Durham had initially been handpicked by President George W. Bush’s final Attorney General to examine the destruction of CIA videotapes that depicted detainee mistreatment after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. But Holder expanded the prosecutor’s mandate in 2009, to include possible violations of the anti torture statute by CIA interrogators and contractors.
The probe opened a rift between the Justice Department and the intelligence community, which protested that its operatives had acted well within the guidelines in place during the Bush years. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and other top Republicans blasted Holder for picking through the past.
But in his statement Thursday, Holder gave little ground. He pointed out that the investigation was “limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed and was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety” of the detainee treatment.