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US Justice Department to Investigate CIA Detainee Deaths

US Attorney General Eric Holder (file photo)

US Attorney General Eric Holder (file photo)

The U.S. Justice Department says it will open a full criminal investigation into the deaths of two suspected terrorists while they were in CIA custody.

The investigations were announced Thursday in a statement issued by Attorney General Eric Holder. News outlets have identified the two detainees as Gul Rahman, who died in 2002 at a facility in Afghanistan, and Manadel al-Jamadi, who died in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Pictures of al-Jamadi's body wrapped in ice sparked international outrage.

Holder did not reveal the identity of the detainees in his statement.

The investigations are the result of a federal prosecutor's two-year review of 101 cases of CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists. Holder said the review did not warrant any further investigation into the remaining 100-plus cases.

During the administration of President George W. Bush, the Justice Department issued a series of memos that authorized intelligence officers to use harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists, such as sleep deprivation and waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

Holder said intelligence officers who acted "in good faith" by following the guidelines put forth by the agency would not face prosecution.

The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement after Holder's announcement saying the narrow investigation does not equal the "scale and scope of the wrongdoing."

But outgoing CIA Director Leon Panetta, who takes over as defense secretary Friday, said Holder's decision will let the agency "close this chapter" of its history.