[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
By KATHERINE SHRADER
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
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.As 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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