Holder’s CIA Probe Prompts Disputes

July 2, 2011

Leon Panetta

Outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta praised a Justice Department announcement June 30 that it would drop 99 of the 101 cases under investigation for law-breaking during CIA interrogation of terrorism detainees.


But critics claimed whitewash in the announcement by Attorney Gen. Eric Holder to expand just two of the preliminary probes by special federal investigator John Durham, a Connecticut-based career prosecutor, into full criminal investigations of CIA personnel or contractors.

“On this, my last day as director, I welcome the news that the broader inquiries are behind us,” Panetta said in a statement before he began his new job as defense secretary on July 1. “We are now finally about to close this chapter of our agency’s history.”

Connecticut Watchdog raised questions about Durham’s probe last July by reporting that a federal appeals court had ruled that Connecticut prosecutors illegally suppressed evidence in the corruption prosecution of Connecticut businessman Charles Spadoni, which Durham had supervised as interim U.S. attorney.  Now, such Justice Department critics as Salon commentator Glenn Greenwald assert that Durham’s findings were  a predictable extension of the policies of both the Bush and Obama administrations to shield high-level officials from accountability.  In “Torture crimes officially, permanently shielded” Greenwald described Holder’s decision as “a profound victory” for those responsible for torture.

In related news, New Haven federal trial judge Ellen B. Burns June 24 denied motions by Spadoni to dismiss his remaining count of obstruction of justice or to have a hearing on new evidence. The obstruction charge is the only one remaining from the eight original counts following the appeals court findings of prosecution misconduct. The jury conviction was because Spadoni deleted files from his office computer in 1999 when he learned his boss was under investigation for bribing Connecticut’s state treasurer, Paul Silvester. Spadoni is scheduled for resentencing Aug. 25.

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