The Justice Department announced it has launched an investigation into who authorized the use of waterboarding at the department, following a request from Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
After the two sent the DOJ a letter asking who authorized the use of the controversial interrogation technique, H. Marshall Jarrett, the head of DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility, wrote the senators that this issue is; “included in a pending OPR investigation into the circumstances surrounding the drafting” of a 2002 Office of Legal Counsel memo on interrogation standards.
Earlier this month, CIA Director Michael Hayden publicly admitted for the first time that the agency had used waterboarding on 3 suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as one of the architects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“The United States has always repudiated waterboarding as a form of torture and prosecuted it as a war crime,” said Durbin in a statement released on Friday. “Justice Department officials who ignored this history -- even those at the highest levels -- must be held accountable for their actions.”
The waterboarding issue nearly derailed the nomination of Michael Mukasey to be attorney general, with Democrats trying to get Mukasey to state unequivocally that the practice was torture. Although Mukasey refused to do so and was later confirmed--Democrats have not let the issue drop.
“Congress and the American people deserve to know how these decisions were made and who was involved,” Durbin said of the investigation.
There was no indication of when the DOJ’s investigation would be completed.