Human Rights Watch has asked the Obama administration to carry out a criminal investigation of the CIA interrogation techniques used against terror suspects. The civil rights group wants to investigate 21 ex-U.S. officials for the possibility of criminal misconduct.
Former government officials on the proposed investigation list include: former Vice President Dick Cheney, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, former CIA Director George Tenet, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and former President George W. Bush. Human Rights Watch says that sufficient evidence was revealed publicly in December 2014 by the U.S. Senate committee to warrant such an inquiry. The American Bar Association president is also requesting an investigation into the CIA torture tactics.
Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth said, "It's been a year since the Senate torture report, and still the Obama administration has not opened new criminal investigations into CIA torture ... Without criminal investigations, which would remove torture as a policy option, Obama's legacy will forever be poisoned."
No Comment from Ex-Officials Accused of Abuse
Representatives for Tenet and Bush decided not to comment on the Human Rights Watch announcement. Cheney, Ashcroft and Rice could not be reached. In the past, ex-Bush administration staff members have said that the CIA merely employed enhanced interrogation techniques, which were not torture. Ex-Bush officials have also argued against the Senate's 2014 findings, saying that they were biased. James Mitchell, who helped design the interrogation program said that the allegations were "a bunch of hooey." He said that some of the information in the Senate report is not true.
The CIA implemented its interrogation procedures on suspects captured following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York. The suspects were apprehended around the world and held by the U.S. government in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Previous Criminal Inquiry Was Closed by Obama Administration
In 2009, the Obama administration started a criminal inquiry to find out if the interrogation program involved criminal misconduct, but it closed the inquiry in 2012. Eric Holder, who was U.S. Attorney General at the time, said that there was not enough evidence to support a criminal prosecution.
Human Rights Watch is now arguing that the 2014 Senate report on the interrogations has revealed more evidence that might be used to prove the CIA torture tactics violated U.S. civil rights laws and criminal statutes in addition to international laws.
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