WASHINGTON - An investigation launched in 2008 into the CIA's program of detaining and interrogating captured militants was closed on Thursday with no criminal charges, the Justice Department said.

The interrogators used techniques like "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, which US President Barack Obama and human rights advocates say is torture.

In a statement announcing the closing of the last two cases in the lengthy investigation, Attorney General Eric Holder said it "was limited to a determination of whether prosecutable offenses were committed and was not intended to, and does not resolve, broader questions regarding the propriety of the examined conduct."

Current and former CIA officials welcomed the decision. They have maintained that the program, begun after the Sept. 11 al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington, was conducted under guidelines issued by lawyers of the administration of former US president George W. Bush.

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