Prosecutions likely

By Jason Ralph

The NYT reports today that Office of Professional Responsibility is recommending prosecutions in nearly a dozen prisoner abuse cases.  It appears these involve abuse at Abu Graib and Afghanistan and do not relate to the extraordinary rendition cases.  However, the report does state “it is not out of the question that a new investigation would also examine their conduct. That could mean a look at the case in which C.I.A. officers threatened one prisoner with a handgun and a power drill if he did not cooperate. The detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was suspected as the master plotter behind the 2000 bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole.”  On the question of what to do with the authors of the legal opinions the CIA officials took as their guide, it states “It has been known that the Justice Department ethics report had criticized the authors of the legal opinions and, in some cases, would recommend referrals to local bar associations for discipline. But the internal inquiry also examined how the opinions were carried out and how referrals of possible violations were made — a process that led ethics investigators to find misconduct serious enough to warrant renewed criminal investigation.”

The chosen path through the legal minefield therefore seems to be – “discipline” the lawyers and prosecute CIA officials that went beyond the advice the lawyers gave.  Fair enough.  But it still leaves the question of what about the CIA interrogators that acted consistent with the flawed advice that the lawyers gave?

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About Jason Ralph

Jason Ralph, Professor of International Relations, University of Leeds
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