WASHINGTON — Seven former CIA directors have called on US President Barack Obama to end a probe into claims the agency abused terror suspects, warning it will cause “serious damage” to intelligence operations.
The former intelligence chiefs, appointed by both Democrat and Republican presidents, in a letter to Obama called on him to end the Justice Department inquiry, warning it would make agents more reticent to act for fear of prosecution.
“This approach will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country,” the group stated.
Warning of “endless criminal investigations,” the seven said allegations of detainee abuse had already been probed, with the supervision of federal prosecutors.
“Attorney General (Eric) Holder’s decision to re-open the criminal investigation creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy for those whose cases the Department of Justice had previously declined to prosecute,” the letter read.
The signatories warned that the investigation could jeopardize relations with other nations that had co-operated with investigations, on the proviso of secrecy.
“I think the reason I felt the way I did is because I don’t believe there’s a basis there for any kind of additional action,” Panetta said.
“My concern is … that we don’t get trapped by the past. My feeling is ultimately, we’re going to be able to move on,” he told reporters this week after a speech in Michigan.