Local News

Judge Denies Ex-CIA Contractor Access To Classified Documents

Posted August 3, 2006

— A former CIA contractor charged with beating an Afghan detainee who later died can't use several classified memos and e-mails when his trial starts next week, a federal judge ruled in an order released Thursday.

David Passaro, 39, of Lillington, is charged with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and two counts of assault resulting in serious injury. Prosecutors have accused the former Special Forces medic with beating Abdul Wali during an interrogation in 2003; Wali died three days later in his cell.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle said before Passaro can have the documents, he must show who approved of his actions in Wali's interrogation. Until he does so, they remain off-limits to his defense team.

Boyle's ruling said Passaro sought access to "classified memoranda allegedly exchanged between the CIA and the Department of Justice in August 2002." In a footnote, Boyle said that Passaro claimed the CIA asked for an opinion in "techniques permissible during interrogations," and that the Justice Department provided the CIA with a memo detailing what techniques were allowed.

Passaro also sought e-mails between military personnel and their commanders in the weeks prior to Wali's interrogation.

Passaro claimed the e-mails show "military personnel took actions to clear themselves of responsibility," Boyle said. The government has said it has turned over to the defense all material, including e-mails, that might help Passaro's case, Boyle said, who added he has no reason to doubt prosecutors.

Passaro's trial is scheduled to start Monday. He was the first U.S. civilian charged with prisoner abuse during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and faces 40 years in prison if convicted.


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