News Columns & Blogs

Pro-con: Is investigation of CIA tactics warranted?

Attorney General Eric Holder did the right thing when, responding to a recommendation from the Justice Department's ethics office, he appointed veteran federal prosecutor John Durham to investigate up to a dozen cases of terrorist suspects being subjected to illegal abuse during CIA interrogations between 2001 and 2004. Despite pressure within his own administration to protect the CIA, President Obama — to his credit — is leaving to Holder any decision to prosecute interrogators. Whatever the complications, or the embarrassment, of a legal accounting for past violations of U.S. torture statutes and the Geneva Conventions, a refusal to apply the law would only compound one betrayal of American values with another. — Boston Globe editorial

In 2004, the CIA's inspector general did an investigation of those interrogations and found much that was "inconsistent with the public policy positions that the United States has taken regarding human rights." The CIA then appeared to have acted properly. It referred the most egregious cases of prisoner abuse to the Justice Department. Those investigations resulted in a single prosecution. Attorney General Eric Holder should consider the conditions under which the agents labored in 2002-03. It was widely believed another Sept. 11-style terrorist attack was imminent. Many of the interrogators seemed poorly trained for the task, were poorly supervised and given little guidance. — Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service