US must reconsider closure of CIA torture cases

The US Attorney General must immediately reconsider his decision to close inquiries into some 100 cases of alleged torture of detainees held in CIA custody, Amnesty International said today.

Eric Holder announced on Thursday that he is opening a criminal probe into the deaths of two detainees in CIA custody, but is closing investigations into the treatment of any other cases since 2001.

Amnesty International’s Director of Law and Policy Michael Bochenek said:

"Closing these cases is a complete travesty of justice. The scores of closed cases include ones that raise serious and credible allegations of torture. 

“We welcome the decision to conduct a criminal investigation into the two deaths, but investigations must not end there. The Attorney General should immediately review these cases and act to bring the United States in line with international law."

Among the closed cases, Amnesty International is aware of three that involved torture. Guantanamo detainees Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, ‘Abd al Rahim al Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah were all subjected to waterboarding during their detention – a fact confirmed by US authorities. Torture is a crime under international law that the United States is obliged to investigate and prosecute.

In addition to the waterboarding, a US interrogator used a power drill to intimidate Abd al Rahim al Nashiri according to a CIA report.

Michael Bochenek added:

“The USA says it is committed to human rights. But its failure to ensure that those who have committed human rights violations are held accountable, directly calls that commitment into question.

“From the outset, the review into CIA detentions ordered by Attorney General Holder in August 2009 was far too narrow. This latest announcement is another blow to justice.”

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