The US Justice Department?s ethics office has recommended reopening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing CIA employees and contractors to prosecution for their treatment of terrorism suspects, The New York Times reported Monday.
Citing an unnamed "person officially briefed on the matter," the newspaper said the recommendation was made recently by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility and presented to Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Justice Department will disclose on Monday new details on prisoner abuse that were gathered in 2004 by the Central Intelligence Agency?s inspector general but have never been released, the report said.
The inspector general has reportedly found that CIA interrogators used a handgun and an electric drill to try to frighten a captured Al-Qaeda commander, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, into giving up information.
Nashiri, who was captured in November 2002 and held for four years in one of the CIA's secret prisons, ultimately became one of three Al-Qaeda leaders subjected to waterboarding, according to earlier media reports.
Nashiri's interrogation is said to have included episodes in which the detainee reportedly was threatened with death or grave injury if he refused to cooperate.
|The Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters in Langley, Virginia|
When the CIA first referred its inspector general?s findings to prosecutors, they decided that none of the cases merited prosecution, The Times said.
But Holder?s associates say that when he took office and saw the allegations he began to reconsider, the paper noted.
The recommendation to review the closed cases, in effect renewing the inquiries, centers mainly on allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report said.
Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has approved the creation of an elite team of interrogators to question key terrorism suspects, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Citing unnamed senior administration officials, the newspaper said the decision was part of a broader effort to revamp US policy on detention and interrogation.
Obama signed off on the unit, named the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) late last week, the report said.
It will be made up of experts from several intelligence and law enforcement agencies and housed at the FBI, the paper noted.
The group will be overseen by the National Security Council, which means shifting the center of gravity away from the CIA and giving the White House direct oversight, The Post said.
Obama moved to overhaul interrogation and detention guidelines soon after taking office, including the creation of a task force on interrogation and transfer policies, the report said.
The task force, whose findings will be made public Monday, recommended the new interrogation unit, along with other changes regarding the way prisoners are transferred overseas, The Post pointed out.