The Justice Department said Thursday it would not file charges in the deaths of two prisoners held in CIA custody a decade ago, closing the last active criminal investigation into the agency's treatment of prisoners after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The decision marks the culmination of a criminal probe that took nearly five years, examined the treatment of about 100 prisoners and branched out far beyond its initial scope, but ultimately produced no charges against any CIA officer.
In a statement, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. signaled that the decision had more to do with the difficulties of assembling evidence, from incidents that had happened years earlier in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, than a conclusion that no crime had occurred.
The department has "declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt," Holder said.
Nevertheless, the news was welcomed by the CIA as a long-awaited opportunity to move past a period in the agency's history that had put dozens of officers in legal jeopardy.
The investigation of the deaths was led by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham, who had expanded the scope of a probe begun in 2008 of the CIA's destruction of interrogation videotapes. The tapes inquiry was also closed with no criminal charges.
The multiple cases angered CIA officials who had already endured a criminal probe of the prisoners' deaths, as well as numerous inquiries into the use of interrogation techniques later described by Holder and others as torture.