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Review of alleged detainee abuse to have narrow scope

'Preliminary review' looks at whether interrogations followed guidance of the Bush 'torture memos.'

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Mr. Durham is already at work investigating the destruction of CIA videotapes of detainee interrogations. The videotape destruction investigation involves significant overlap of information with the new probe because they apparently involve some of the same interrogations. Holder said he was expanding Durham's mandate beyond the videotapes issue to include an examination of interrogations and detainee treatment.

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Durham is specifically instructed to conduct a preliminary review and then present Holder with a recommendation of whether to proceed with a full investigation or drop the matter.

It appears that Durham's investigative mandate is narrow. The investigation apparently will not examine the role of senior administration officials and their legal advisers. Instead, the preliminary probe appears aimed at US officials and contractors who used harsh and brutal tactics that went far beyond those authorized in the Bush administration's so-called torture memos.

"The Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given" by the Bush Justice Department, Holder said.

Panetta will 'stand up for officers'

In a written statement to Central Intelligence Agency employees on Monday, CIA Director Leon Panetta sought to reassure the nation's intelligence officers. "My primary interest," Mr. Panetta wrote, "is to stand up for those officers who did what their country asked and who followed the legal guidance they were given."

Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA's executive director, called Holder's appointment of a special prosecutor "a welcome, yet incomplete, step."

"Any meaningful investigation would encompass both those who claimed they were following orders and those who designed and demanded that the illegal policies be implemented," Mr. Cox said.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut said he is fearful the country will come to regret Holder's decision. He said the investigation would have a chilling effect on US intelligence officers.

Related: Obama ends Bush-era interrogation tactics, even for CIA

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