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On August 24, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed a federal prosecutor to review cases of post-9/11 detainee abuse and determine whether or not a criminal investigation is warranted. 

Human Rights Watch has collected information on some 330 cases of abuse involving more than 600 US personnel. We have long called for a criminal investigation into such abusive practices as waterboarding and other ill-treatment of people in US custody. In July we wrote the attorney general a letter urging him to appoint a prosecutor. Holder’s decision is a huge step forward in promoting accountability for torture by US forces, but the fight for justice is far from over.

Holder said that the Justice Department would not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith within the scope of the legal guidance provided by previous Justice Department lawyers, but Human Rights Watch believes that even torture “authorized” by the Bush administration must be prosecuted. To ensure that the investigation does not focus only on so-called “rogue” interrogators, we are working intensively to generate public criticism of Holder’s narrow approach.

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