Ex-CIA heads press Obama to avoid torture cases
Seven former heads of the CIA put to pressure on Obama on Friday to avoid the probe into allegations of abuse of prisoners committed by the agency.
World Bulletin / News Desk
Seven former heads of the CIA put to pressure on President Barack Obama on Friday to avoid the probe into allegations of abuse of prisoners committed by the agency.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last month named a prosecutor to examine whether criminal charges should be filed against Central Intelligence Agency interrogators or contractors for torture methods during interrogations, Reuters said.
The former CIA chiefs countered that the cases had already been investigated during the Bush administration and lawyers had declined to prosecute all but one contractor.
They defended in the letter that the interrogations discourage intelligence officiers to do their mission.
The letter to Obama was signed by three CIA directors under President George W. Bush -- Michael Hayden, Porter Goss and George Tenet -- as well as by John Deutch, James Woolsey, William Webster and James Schlesinger, who dates to the Nixon administration.
Obama has said he wants to look forward beyond the Bush administration, which civil liberties groups have accused of using torture to coerce information from suspects in violation of U.S. and international law.
But Obama has also said the matter was up to Holder, who decided in late August to reopen the cases because "it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take."
Call of UN
Earlier, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said there should be no immunity from prosecution for torture of suspects in the U.S. probe of alleged CIA prisoner abuse cases.
The next step would involve criminal liability for anyone who broke the law, Navi Pillay said in a statement calling for greater transparency about "secret places of detention and what went on in them".
Pillay, a former U.N. war crimes judge, said that the use of secret places of detention must be curbed and she called for the release of the names of detainees currently being held there.
Only very "small" cases
The Washington Post, citing two sources briefed on the matter, reported on Friday night that the Justice Department review would focus on only a very small number of cases, including one in which an Afghan inmate died at a secret CIA facility in Afghanistan seven years ago.
Bush administration officials, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, oppose to release details about torture methods during interrogations.
Cheney, under fire because of his role in the cases, has defended that torture and abuse tactics having saved lives and protected the country.
A CIA's inspector general's report detailing the harsh interrogation techniques noted that they did not succeed.
A spokesman for Holder said, with the recommendation of the Justice Department's ethics office and other information, the attorney general decided to name a prosecutor to investigate.
"The attorney general's decision to order a preliminary review into this matter was made in line with his duty to examine the facts and to follow the law," said spokesman Matt Miller.
"As he has made clear, the Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees."
Last Mod: 19 Eylül 2009, 14:21