WASHINGTON — Leading Republican lawmakers cautioned U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. on Wednesday against opening an investigation into alleged CIA interrogation abuses, saying that such a probe could have serious national security repercussions.
"It is well past time for the Obama administration to lift the cloud that has been placed over those in the intelligence community and let them return to the job of saving American lives," wrote the GOP lawmakers in a letter to Holder signed by nine Republican senators.
An investigation that distracts the CIA, the lawmakers said, "could leave us more vulnerable to attack."
Among those who signed the letter were Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., the Senate minority whip; Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
Justice Department officials have said that Holder was outraged by abuses described in a CIA inspector general's report completed in 2004. That internal probe found that key al-Qaida prisoners had been water-boarded hundreds of times, despite department warnings that repetition of the simulated-drowning technique should "not be substantial."
An unclassified version of the CIA report is expected to be publicly released Monday, adding to the pressure on Holder to open an inquiry or explain why the Justice Department had not sought criminal prosecutions of the alleged abuses described in the document.