In August 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded Durham's mandate to include a preliminary review of the CIA's interrogation of specific detainees overseas. In June 2011, Holder approved Durham's request to move into a full criminal investigation of the two deaths.
The 2009 expansion followed the public release of an internal CIA inspector general's report that revealed agency interrogators once threatened to kill a Sept. 11 suspect's children and suggested another would be forced to watch his mother be sexually assaulted. The report said some CIA interrogators went beyond Bush administration restrictions that gave them wide latitude to use severe tactics such as waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique.
In regard to the just-completed probe, Holder said that "based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths, the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt."
In a message to employees Thursday, CIA Director David Petraeus said that "it was very important that we supported fully the Justice Department in its efforts" and "I would like to thank everyone who played a role" in doing so.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said he was "heartened that the investigation is complete, and I'm heartened by the result."
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the outcome "nothing short of a scandal," adding that "continuing impunity threatens to undermine the universally recognized prohibition on torture and other abusive treatment."