[Ppnews] Bush approves CIA torture techniques

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 20 19:28:02 EDT 2007

Bush Alters Rules for CIA Interrogations

Friday July 20, 2007 11:31 PM


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush breathed new 
life into the CIA's terror interrogation program 
Friday in an executive order that would allow 
harsh questioning of suspects, limited in public 
only by a vaguely worded ban on cruel and inhuman treatment.

The order bars some practices such as sexual 
abuse, part of an effort to quell international 
criticism of some of the CIA's most sensitive and 
debated work. It does not say what practices would be allowed.

The executive order is the White House's first 
public effort to reach into the CIA's 
five-year-old terror detention program, which has 
been in limbo since a Supreme Court decision last 
year called its legal foundation into question.

Officials would not provide any details on 
specific interrogation techniques that the CIA 
may use under the new order. In the past, its 
methods are believed to have included sleep 
deprivation and disorientation, exposing 
prisoners to uncomfortable cold or heat for long 
periods, stress positions and - most 
controversially - the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding.

The Bush administration has portrayed the 
interrogation operation as one of one of its most 
successful tools in the war on terror, while 
opponents have said the agency's techniques have 
left a black mark on the United States' reputation around the world.

Bush's order requires that CIA detainees 
``receive the basic necessities of life, 
including adequate food and water, shelter from 
the elements, necessary clothing, protection from 
extremes of heat and cold, and essential medical care.''

A senior intelligence official would not comment 
directly when asked if waterboarding would be 
allowed under the new order and under related - 
but classified - legal documents drafted by the Justice Department.

However, the official said, ``It would be wrong 
to assume the program of the past transfers to the future.''

A second senior administration official 
acknowledged sleep is not among the basic necessities outlined in the order.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity to 
discuss the order more freely.

Skeptical human rights groups did not embrace Bush's effort.

Tom Malinowski, Washington director for Human 
Rights Watch, said the broad outlines in the 
public order don't matter. The key is in the 
still-classified guidance distributed to CIA officers.

As a result, the executive order requires the 
public to trust the president to provide adequate 
protection to detainees. ``Given the experience 
of the last few years, they have to be naive if 
they think that is going to reassure too many people,'' he said.

The order specifically refers to captured 
al-Qaida suspects who may have information on 
attack plans or the whereabouts of the group's 
senior leaders. White House press secretary Tony 
Snow said the CIA's program has saved lives and 
must continue on a sound legal footing.

``The president has insisted on clear legal 
standards so that CIA officers involved in this 
essential work are not placed in jeopardy for 
doing their job - and keeping America safe from attacks,'' he said.

The five-page order reiterated many protections 
already granted under U.S. and international law. 
It said that any conditions of confinement and interrogation cannot include:

- Torture or other acts of violence serious 
enough to be considered comparable to murder, 
torture, mutilation or cruel or inhuman treatment.

- Willful or outrageous acts of personal abuse 
done to humiliate or degrade someone in a way so 
serious that any reasonable person would ``deem 
the acts to be beyond the bounds of human 
decency.'' That includes sexually indecent acts.

- Acts intended to denigrate the religion of an individual.

The order does not permit detainees to contact 
family members or have access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In a decision last year aimed at the military's 
tribunal system, the Supreme Court required the 
U.S. government to apply Geneva Convention 
protections to the conflict with al-Qaida, 
shaking the legal footing of the CIA's program.

Last fall, Congress instructed the White House to 
draft an executive order as part of the Military 
Commissions Act, which outlined the rules for 
trying terrorism suspects. The bill barred 
torture, rape and other war crimes that clearly 
would have violated the Geneva Conventions, but 
allowed Bush to determine - through executive 
order - whether less harsh interrogation methods can be used.

The administration and the CIA have maintained 
that the agency's program has been lawful all along.

In a message to CIA employees on Friday, Director 
Michael Hayden tried to stress the importance and 
narrow scope of the program. He noted that fewer 
than half of the less than 100 detainees have 
experienced the agency's ``enhanced interrogation measures.''

``Simply put, the information developed by our 
program has been irreplaceable,'' he said. ``If 
the CIA, with all its expertise in 
counterterrorism, had not stepped forward to hold 
and interrogate people like (senior al-Qaida 
operatives) Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh 
Mohammed, the American people would be right to ask why.''

For decades, the United States had two paths for 
questioning suspects: the U.S. justice system and 
the military's Army Field Manual.

However, after the 9/11 attacks, the Bush 
administration decided more needed to be done. 
With Zubaydah's capture in 2002, the CIA program was quietly created.

Since then, 97 terror suspects are believed to 
have been held by the agency at locations around 
the world, often referred to as ``black sites.''

The program sparked international controversy as 
details slowly emerged, with human rights groups 
saying the agency's work was a violation of 
international law, including the Third Geneva 
Convention's Common Article 3 protections, which 
set a baseline standard for the treatment of prisoners of war.

In September, Bush announced the U.S. had 
transferred the last 14 high-value CIA detainees 
to the military's detention facility at 
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they would stand 
trial. The CIA has held one detainee since then - 
an Iraqi who the U.S. considered one of 
al-Qaida's most senior operatives. He was also 
eventually transferred to Guantanamo.


Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Lara 
Jakes Jordan contributed to this report.
July 20, 2007

C.I.A. Allowed to Resume Interrogations



WASHINGTON, July 20 ­ After months of behind the 
scenes wrangling, the White House said Friday 
that it had given the 
Intelligence Agency approval to resume its use of 
some harsh interrogation methods in questioning 
terrorism suspects in secret prisons overseas.

With the new authorization, administration 
officials said the C.I.A. could now proceed with 
an interrogation program that has been in limbo 
since the 
Court ruled last year that all prisoners in 
American captivity be treated in accordance with 
Geneva Convention prohibitions against 
humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees.

An executive order signed by President Bush 
allows the C.I.A. to use some interrogation 
methods banned for military interrogators but 
that the Justice Department has determined do not 
violate the Geneva strictures.

In a message to agency employees on Friday, 
V. Hayden, the C.I.A. director, said the 
executive order allows agency employees to “focus 
on our vital work, confident that our mission and 
authorities are clearly defined.” General Hayden 
said that information obtained through the 
interrogation program had been “irreplaceable,” 
though he said extraordinary techniques had been 
used on fewer than half of about 100 prisoners 
who had spent time in C.I.A. custody.

The White House order brought condemnation from 
human rights groups, who argued that harsh 
interrogation practices are neither permitted 
under international law nor are an effective tool 
for obtaining information from detainees.

The specific interrogation methods now approved 
for the C.I.A. remain classified, but several 
officials said that the C.I.A. has abandoned some 
of the most controversial past techniques, 
including “waterboarding,” which induces a 
feeling of drowning, that human rights 
organizations and some members of Congress have said are equal to torture.

The long-delayed order comes nearly 10 months 
after President Bush signed legislation that 
included the first formal Congressional 
authorization of the C.I.A’s secret detention and 
interrogation program, which the White House has 
called an essential tool for thwarting future terror attacks.

It was a requirement of the bill that the C.I.A. 
draw up a list of interrogation methods and that 
the methods be approved by the Justice 
Department, which recently completed a legal 
opinion that all of the methods meet Geneva Convention standards.

The delay was the result of often intense 
disagreements within the Bush administration 
about just how far to push the boundaries for 
interrogations and exactly which methods are 
legal. Earlier this year, State Department 
officials rejected a draft of the executive order 
because they believed that the language was too 
permissive and could open the Bush administration 
to challenges from American allies that the White 
House was legalizing methods that approach torture.

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