Sunday, August 26, 2007

Top military lawyers wary of CIA interrogation abuses under new Bush order

Bernard Hibbitts
The Jurist
August 25, 2007

[JURIST] US Judge Advocates General told a group of Republican senators last month that CIA prisoner interrogation methods authorized under a July executive order [text; JURIST report] issued by President Bush could contravene the Geneva Conventions, according to the Boston Globe. The military lawyers were talking to John Warner, Lindsay Graham, and a top aide to John McCain, all of whom have pressed for changes to various aspects of US interrogation policy. The JAGs expressed particular concern about wording in the order that could allow detainees to be subjected to humiliating or degrading interrogation techniques banned under the Conventions as long as those were directed to protecting national security interests rather than the sadistic purposes of the interrogator. A subsequent memo from US Army JAG Major General Scott C. Black obtained by the Globe was issued to "make clear that [the Geneva Conventions are] the minimum humane treatment standard" for prisoners and that "This Executive Order does not change the standard for the Army...As a Corps, we must be diligent to ensure that all interrogation and detention operations comply with the Army standard." The Boston Globe has more.

Executive Order 13440 specifically prohibits

willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency, such as sexual or sexually indecent acts undertaken for the purpose of humiliation, forcing the individual to perform sexual acts or to pose sexually, threatening the individual with sexual mutilation, or using the individual as a human shield...

It affirms that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [PDF text] defines aspects of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions [text] for US law and that the president has the right to "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment under the Geneva Conventions.

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