Many of the other suspected terrorists were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques that provoked divisive national debate, with some calling the techniques legal and necessary and others shunning them as government-sanctioned torture.
“On this, my last day as director, I welcome the news that the broader inquiries are behind us,” said a statement from CIA Director Leon Panetta, who will take over as defense secretary on Friday. “We are now finally about to close this chapter of our agency’s history.”
The Justice Department did not say which cases are being investigated, but U.S. officials said they are the death of an Afghan, Gul Rahman, in 2002 at a prison known as the Salt Pit in Afghanistan, and that of an Iraqi, Manadel al-Jamadi, who was questioned by three CIA officers at Abu Ghraib in 2003.
In the case involving the Salt Pit, known as a “black site” because the U.S. government did not officially acknowledge its existence, a CIA officer allegedly ordered Afghan guards in November 2002 to strip Rahman and chain him to the concrete floor of his cell. Temperatures plunged overnight, and Rahman froze to death. Hypothermia was listed as the cause of death and Rahman was buried in an unmarked grave.
Jamadi, the Iraqi, was captured on Nov. 4, 2003, by a Navy SEAL team hunting a terrorist cell thought to be responsible for a bombing in Baghdad. After initial interrogation efforts, he was transferred into CIA custody and was taken to Abu Ghraib. There he was hooded, placed in an orange jumpsuit and shackled to window bars in a shower room, where he died.
Jamadi’s body was put on ice to preserve it for autopsy. U.S. soldiers posed for photographs with the body — including some in which they gave the thumbs-up sign — provoking international outrage when news organizations showed the images.
The Jamadi case has been moving before a grand jury in Alexandria in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the proceedings who spoke on the condition of anonymity because grand jury deliberations are secret. Members of the military who worked at Abu Ghraib around the time of Jamadi’s death faced questions that largely focused on the circumstances of the death and what the CIA’s involvement was in capturing, transporting and interrogating him at the prison.
A CIA officer at Abu Ghraib who was in charge of extracting actionable intelligence from detainees was withdrawn from Iraq after the death, according to a former intelligence official, who, like several officials quoted in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Two other CIA officers were also present.