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DOJ to investigate 2 overseas detainee deaths

US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] announced Thursday that he would continue investigating the deaths of two detainees [press release] who died during interrogations by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website]. Former attorney general Michael Mukasey had appointed Assistant United States Attorney John Durham in 2008 to conduct a criminal investigation into the destruction of 92 interrogation videotapes [JURIST report] by the CIA and to determine whether federal laws were violated during overseas interrogations. After extensive investigation, Durham recommended that Holder order a full criminal investigation into the deaths of two particular detainees, but that criminal investigations of the remaining cases was unwarranted. Holder stated that he would not prosecute anyone in the CIA acting in good faith or under the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel [official website], but investigations into the two deaths will be ongoing.

In January, a federal judge told the CIA that it must investigate the destruction of the interrogation tapes [JURIST report] related to individuals detained after 9/11 [JURIST news archive] and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. Internal CIA documents [part 1, PDF; part 2, PDF; part 3, PDF] released last year reveal that the former head of the agency Porter Goss may have agreed to the destruction [JURIST report] of videotapes [JURIST news archive] showing harsh interrogations of terror suspects. According to redacted documents [text, PDF] filed in March 2009, 12 of 92 videotapes contained evidence of "enhanced interrogation techniques." The DOJ had acknowledged in March 2009 that the CIA destroyed [letter, PDF] the videotapes of high value terrorism suspect interrogations in response to an August 2008 judicial order [text, PDF] that the CIA turn over information regarding the tapes or provide specific justifications on why it could not release the information. The August 2008 order came in response to a December 2007 ACLU motion [text, PDF] that the CIA be held in contempt of court for not providing information on the tapes during a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] lawsuit [ACLU materials] brought by the organization in an effort to access government materials on the interrogations.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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