Deaths of 2 CIA Detainees Probed; Freezing Temperatures and Blunt Force May Be Cause

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The U.S. Justice Department has launched a full-scale criminal investigation into the deaths of two detainees who died in CIA custody overseas.

Attorney General Eric Holder authorized the investigation based on the recommendation of special prosecutor John Durham, report the New York Times and The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. At the same time, Holder said, he is closing an investigation into nearly 100 other cases based on Durham’s conclusions.

Holder said in a statement that Durham’s probe considered whether interrogators used techniques that had not been authorized by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, and whether those methods violated the torture statute or other laws.

Holder did not identify the detainees whose deaths spurred the investigation, but the Times learned their identity from anonymous government officials. They are Manadel al-Jamadi, who died at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003, and Gul Rahman, who died in 2002 in a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan.

Al-Jamadi became known as the Iceman after his body was photographed packed in ice and wrapped in plastic, the story says. Smiling servicemen posed next to the corpse, NPR reported at the time. A military autopsy determined the death was a homicide caused by “blunt force trauma to the torso complicated by compromised respiration,” NPR said. Al-Jamadi had been a suspected leader of a terrorist cell.

The New Yorker and the Associated Press have stories on the death of Rahman, a suspected Afghan militant who may have died from freezing temperatures while in custody.

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