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From Out of the Memory Hole: CIA Referrals for Torture Prosecutions

Something else from Attorney General Eric Holder’s apparent decision to seek prosecutions for low-level CIA interrogators (Argh!) over torture: Newsweek reports that the prospect of those prosecutions may suffer from lack of evidence. Here’s a retired career Justice official:

But task-force prosecutors say they ran into a host of problems, including a lack of witnesses and forensic evidence, and declined to prosecute in all but one case. “We wanted to make these cases, but they just weren’t there,” says Rob Spencer, the former career Justice prosecutor who headed the task force until 2006. Ken Melson, who oversaw Spencer’s work and was appointed by Holder as acting Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives director, says the cases were “looked at aggressively” and without political pressure. “I think we made the right decision on these cases,” he says.

Maybe. It’s not crazy to think there were problems with preserving evidence at these locations. After all, CIA officials destroyed nearly 100 videotapes of interrogations.

Meanwhile, Marcy Wheeler catches some fast-and-loose references to the number of “specific referrals” from the CIA inspector general’s office to the Justice Department:

Of course, all three claims are likely true: CIA made no “specific referrals” … “when the report was finished,” but did make five referrals over the course of the investigation. And, once it took a look at the report (and probably once it looked at a bunch of military referrals), DOJ reviewed 20 cases. It’s funny, though, how zero can become five can become twenty as the need for different spin arises.

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