Seven former CIA directors have urged U.S. President Barack Obama to stop a criminal probe into alleged prisoner abuse by CIA interrogators during the Bush administration.
The CIA directors, who served both Democratic and Republican presidents, made they request in a letter Friday to the White House.
In their letter, the former directors - John Deutch, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, James Schlesinger, George Tenet, William Webster, and James Woolsey - warned that the investigation could discourage intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country, and may inhibit foreign governments from cooperating with the United States.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last month named prosecutor John Durham to lead the investigation to determine whether CIA personnel broke laws when interrogating terrorism suspects.
Holder's spokesman Mark Miller said the attorney general's decision to order a preliminary review into this matter was made in line with his duty to examine the facts and to follow the law.
Miller said the Justice Department will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees.
Dick Cheney, who was vice president in the Bush administration, denounced the opening of the investigation as "politically motivated." He said the decision would damage the country's long-term capacity to have people take on difficult jobs.
Cheney is a staunch defender of the former administration's interrogation policies put in place after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. He said these techniques kept the nation safe from further terrorism attacks.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.