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34 Senators: End DOJ Investigation of CIA Interrogators

4:01 PM, May 12, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Thirty-four Republican senators will send a letter to Barack Obama, calling on the president "to finally end the DOJ’s unwarranted investigations of CIA interrogators, whose work led to one of the most defining moments of the Global War on Terror."

CIA floor seal

This letter to the president comes after the killing of al Qaeda founder and chief Osama bin Laden, and after various intelligence officials, including Obama's CIA director Leon Panetta, acknowledged that “a multiple series of sources that provided information with regards to this situation… Clearly some of it came from detainees and the interrogation of detainees...they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of those detainees.”  

The senators commend President Obama, as well as George W. Bush and national security professionals, for their action. But "find it extremely troubling that your Attorney General is apparently continuing to pursue charges against some of [the national security professionals] for their actions during the previous administration."

"These Americans did their jobs at the direction of the President of the United States," the senators write. "Punishing them for their actions, which likely saved lives by helping avert other terrorist attacks, will continue to have a chilling effect on the critical work of their colleagues and other national security professionals in the U.S. Government. Our nation cannot afford these politically motivated investigations to continue."

The letter was signed by the following senators: Cornyn, Blunt, Sessions, Chambliss, Burr, Boozman, Graham, Barrasso, Enzi, Hoeven, Risch, Inhofe, McConnell, Portman, Moran, Heller, Alexander, R. Johnson, Hutchison, Kirk, Coats, Thune, Johanns, Wicker, Crapo, Ayotte, Hatch, Vitter, Grassley, Rubio, Lee, Isakson, Roberts, and Corker.

Here's the full text of the letter:

May 12, 2011  

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC  20500

Dear President Obama:

Last week, we welcomed your news that justice has finally been served on Osama bin Laden, nearly a decade after al Qaeda carried out the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001 under his leadership.  Since then, we have learned more about the vital role that our nation’s intelligence community played in gathering the critical information that enabled this hugely successful operation.  We commend you, President Bush, and all the national security professionals whose tremendous efforts ended the reign of this terrorist mastermind. 

These Americans have our thanks and admiration, and our nation should honor them for their selfless service.  Therefore, we find it extremely troubling that your Attorney General is apparently continuing to pursue charges against some of them for their actions during the previous administration.  Specifically, we are referring to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) inappropriate and unjustified investigation – and potential future prosecution – of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) professionals who interrogated specific detainees at overseas locations.

As you know, in August 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder reopened investigations of several of these CIA interrogators.  Their cases had been formally closed by 2007 after thorough consideration by federal prosecutors, who declined to seek grand jury indictments.  At that time, in protest of the Attorney General’s decision, seven former CIA directors, spanning multiple Administrations, wrote to you urging you to end these investigations, based on the detrimental impact it could have on our intelligence efforts.  Now, after bin Laden’s death, the American people face the reality that these CIA interrogators – whose work materially contributed to the successful operation against bin Laden – continue to be persecuted by the very government they honorably serve, on allegations for which they have previously been cleared.

According to press reports, officials in your Administration now recognize that key intelligence used to find bin Laden was obtained at least in part through the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which you subsequently prohibited.  In a recent interview with NBC Nightly News, CIA Director Leon Panetta acknowledged that the bin Laden operation involved “a multiple series of sources that provided information with regards to this situation… Clearly some of it came from detainees and the interrogation of detainees...”  Director Panetta confirmed that “they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of those detainees.” 

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