Feds Calling Witnesses Before Secret Grand Jury Probing CIA Abuses

Federal prosecutor John Durham has begun calling witnesses to testify before a secret grand jury probing the 2003 death of a man in CIA custody and other abuses at the agency, Adam Zagorin reported for Time.

A subpoena signed by Durham obtained by the publication indicates that “the grand jury is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving War Crimes (18 USC/2441), Torture (18 USC 243OA) and related federal offenses.”Durham, a Republican-appointed U.S. attorney based in Connecticut, was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether some at the CIA went beyond the Bush DOJ’s guidance on the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

Nearly a year ago, Holder said Durham was “close” to making recommendations to him about how to move forward if it was determined individuals went beyond what Holder called “pretty far out” legal opinions issued during the Bush era.

Holder’s directive has come under fire from Republicans, including former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who recently said it was “absolutely outrageous” action that would demoralize the agency.

The investigation appears to be focused on one individual who might be responsible for the death of Iraqi prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi, known as the “Ice Man” because of an attempt to cool his body and make him look less dead. Time reports:

So now Durham is seeking evidence about the “Ice Man’s” death from, among others, current and former U.S. military personnel who served at Abu Ghraib, the notorious prison west of Baghdad, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. And he is asking a lot of questions — like who took photographs of the body, and when. Durham, according to these sources, has also asked about civilian contractors at the site, mentioning one by name, and has probed the source of the multiple shoe prints apparently found on material used to wrap the “Ice Man’s” body.

Perhaps most importantly, according to someone familiar with the investigation, Durham and FBI agents have said the probe’s focus involves “a specific civilian person.” Durham didn’t name names, but those close to the case believe that person is Mark Swanner, a non-covert CIA interrogator and polygraph expert who questioned Jamadi immediately before his death. Swanner, of Stafford County, Va., told investigators several years ago that he did not harm the prisoner. Both Swanner and his lawyer declined to comment. Citing its ongoing investigation, the Justice Department also declined comment.