The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended that the attorney general reopen and pursue nearly a dozen CIA prisoner-abuse cases, The New York Times reported Monday.
The move would reverse the policy of the Bush administration, which had closed the cases, and could expose CIA employees and agency contractors to criminal prosecution for the alleged mistreatment of terror suspects in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The recommendation by the Office of Professional Responsibility was recently presented to Attorney General Eric Holder, an unidentified person officially briefed on the matter told the Times. The ethics recommendation comes as the Justice Department is to disclose a 2004 report by the CIA’s inspector general detailing prisoner-abuse allegations.
Holder is considering whether to appoint a special criminal prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s interrogation practices, a controversial move that would run counter to President Barack Obama’s wishes to leave the issue in the past.
But Holder reportedly reacted with disgust when he first read accounts of prisoner abuse earlier this year in a classified version of the IG report.
The report is said to reveal how interrogators conducted mock executions and threatened at least one man with a gun and a power drill. Threatening a prisoner with death violates U.S. anti-torture laws.
A federal judge has ordered the IG report made public Monday, in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
A CIA spokesman, Paul Gimigliano, told the Times that the recommendation to reopen the cases had not been sent to the agency.