Doubt cast over US torture investigation as more CIA detainees come forward

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More lawyers for men allegedly tortured by the CIA are coming forward to say that the major US criminal investigation into torture never interviewed their clients.

The Justice Department inquiry, concluded in 2012 without charging anyone involved in the CIA’s Bush-era network of secret prisons, is receiving new scrutiny thanks to a United Nations committee hearing in Geneva this week examining US compliance with international anti-torture law.

Looking at US conduct on torture for the first time since 2006, the committee on Wednesday specifically asked a US delegation about the defunct investigation, conducted by John Durham, an assistant US attorney in Connecticut.

Two members of the UN committee, Jens Modvig of Denmark and George Tugushi of Georgia, wanted to know why Durham’s staff did not interview former CIA detainees, an issue exhumed by five Libyan men once held by the CIA who wrote to the committee affirming that no one conducting the inquiry ever spoke with them. The US will have an opportunity to respond in depth on Thursday.

Attorneys representing five other former CIA detainees, all of whom allege the agency was involved in their detention or rendition, now say Durham never interviewed their clients, either . One of them said he specifically suggested to Durham that he speak with his client.

Lawyers for Walid bin Attash, one of the co-defendants in a military tribunal for the 9/11 attacks, said that Durham did not interview their client. Bin Attash is one of several people held at Guantánamo Bay’s Camp 7, for “high-value” detainees once in CIA custody.

In a secret CIA prison, believed to be in Poland, Bin Attash’s captors placed a collar around his neck that they would use to “slam me against the walls of the interrogation room”, he told the International Committee of the Red Cross in a leaked report. He estimates that for days on end, his captors kept him standing, naked, chained to the ceiling.

Also named in that report was Abu Zubaydah, whom the CIA has acknowledged waterboarding 83 times. Abu Zubaydah’s lawyer, Joe Margulies, also a visiting professor at Cornell University, said he spoke with Durham during the inquiry to suggest Durham interview Abu Zubaydah.

“It would be a useful thing for you to chat with him,” Margulies said he remembered telling Durham.

“If Durham tried, it’s news to me. That doesn’t mean..

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