internal watchdog office at the Justice
Department is investigating whether Bush
administration attorneys violated
professional standards by issuing legal
opinions that authorized the CIA to use
water-boarding and other harsh interrogation
techniques, officials disclosed Friday.
Marshall Jarrett, counsel for the Office of
Professional Responsibility, wrote in a
letter to Democratic lawmakers that his
office is investigating the circumstances
surrounding Justice documents that
established a legal basis for the CIA's
interrogation program, including a
now-infamous memo from August 2002 that
narrowly defined torture and has since been
rescinded by the department.
inquiry is the second publicly disclosed
Justice investigation related to the CIA's
use of water-boarding, a type of simulated
drowning that is considered torture by most
human-rights groups and legal scholars.
General Michael Mukasey in January assigned
a special U.S. attorney to investigate
whether CIA officials committed crimes by
destroying videotapes that show the
interrogations of two high-level Al-Qaida
detainees, including one who was
Office of Professional Responsibility is not
empowered to conduct criminal
investigations, but it can recommend them.
The results of its investigations are
usually confidential. But in his letter
Monday to Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and
Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Jarrett wrote
that investigators will consider releasing
the results of the torture-related probe
publicly "because of the significant public
interest in this matter."
Second Justice inquiry of waterboarding
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