Updated 5:29 p.m.
The Justice Department today announced prosecutors will not pursue criminal charges rooted in the death of two detainees in United States custody overseas.
A special prosecutor, John Durham of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut, announced last June the opening of a full criminal investigation of the deaths of the two detainees. That investigation is now closed.
"Based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths, the Department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt," Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a statement issued this afternoon.
In January 2008, then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey chose Durham to lead the investigation of the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes. Holder in 2009 asked Durham to conduct a preliminary review of whether any federal crimes were committed in the interrogation of detainees overseas.
Holder said Durham's team reviewed "a tremendous volume of information" about 101 detainees who were taken into custody after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Holder did not name either of the two detainees who died in custody.
“Mr. Durham and his team of agents and prosecutors have worked tirelessly to conduct extraordinarily thorough and complete preliminary reviews and investigations," Holder said. "I am grateful to his team and to him for their commitment to ensuring that the preliminary review and the subsequent investigations fully examined a broad universe of allegations from multiple sources."
Holder said the DOJ inquiry "was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed and was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct."
The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the Justice Department's decision, calling it a "scandal" that the government will hold no one accountable "for the killing of prisoners" in the custody of the CIA.
“The Justice Department has declined to bring charges against the officials who authorized torture, the lawyers who sought to legitimate it, and the interrogators who used it," Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director, said in a statement. "It has successfully shut down every legal suit meant to hold officials civilly liable."
Jaffer said the DOJ declination of charges "sends the dangerous signal to government officials that there will be no consequences for their use of torture and other cruelty."