- Reuters -
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A decision by the U.S. attorney general to probe deeper into alleged CIA abuse of captured terrorism suspects may not land anyone in jail, and it could just produce more headaches for President Barack Obama who wants to move on.
A report issued by the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general this week offered a possible road map for building cases.
It gave graphic details about interrogations going beyond approved techniques, recounting threats to kill prisoners' families, a fake execution, a use of a power drill to scare a prisoner and the fact that accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was "waterboarded" 183 times.
But legal experts say special prosecutor John Durham, named by Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the investigation, will face high hurdles to sending anyone to jail.
"I think it's going to be pretty challenging because if you look at the torture statute it is very narrowly drafted," said Thomas McDonnell, a law professor at Pace University in New York.
"Even using the drill as a threat, according to the torture statute, there was no physical harm so there has to be severe mental harm. But the statute then defines as it having to be prolonged mental harm," he said. "So unless you can show that it produced severe and long mental harm, it may not even fit."
This is a complete lie, and he knows it. The torture statute clearly states that threatening a prisoner with imminent death is torture. Are we a nation of laws, or a nation of men?
The American Civil Liberties Union sued for the CIA report to be made public in the hopes of showing that the Bush administration engaged in torture to coerce information from terrorism suspects in violation of U.S. and international law.
The group has pushed for the prosecution of interrogators and those who authorized the techniques.
But regardless of whether charges are filed or not, Obama will likely face criticism from more liberal Democratic supporters who want former Bush officials prosecuted.
Republicans, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, have criticized the investigation as undermining national security.
POLITICAL HEADACHE AHEAD
"It's almost a no-win," said Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia. "This is bound to be a moderate-sized to massive controversy depending on what the recommendations are."
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