The CIA revealed in December it destroyed in 2005 videotapes showing the use of harsh interrogation techniques on alleged al-Qaida terrorists Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.
After a preliminary inquiry, the department's National Security Division recommended, "and I have concluded, that there is a basis for initiating a criminal investigation of this matter," U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Wednesday in a statement.
John Durham of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut will handle the investigation, Mukasey said. Normally a CIA-related investigation would be supervised by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where the CIA headquarters are located.
"However, in an abundance of caution and on the request of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia ... his office has been recused from the investigation of this matter, in order to avoid any possible appearance of a conflict with other matters handled by that office," Mukasey said. "I have also directed the FBI to conduct the investigation under Mr. Durham's supervision."
Congress also is investigating the matter.