New Pentagon Interrogation Manual Limits Methods

The Pentagon has issued a new interrogation manual on how to deal with detainees. It strictly limits how interrogators can question military prisoners, including those the Bush administration calls "unlawful combatants." Administration officials had previously said that those prisoners — who don't wear uniforms or fight under a recognized military — were not entitled to the Geneva Convention's protections for prisoners of war.

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The Pentagon has issued a new interrogation manual on how to deal with detainees. It strictly prohibits how interrogators can question military prisoners, including those the Bush administration calls unlawful combatants. Administration officials had previously said those prisoners, who don't wear uniforms or fight under a recognized military, were not entitled to the Geneva Conventions' protections for prisoners of war.

NPR Pentagon correspondent John Hendren reports:

JOHN HENDREN: Under a 2005 law, the army's new field manual becomes the Pentagon's guiding document for interrogations. It was originally expected this spring, but it was delayed repeatedly by new controversies. First, Senator John McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner of war during Vietnam, forced through Congress a ban on torture by military interrogators over White House objections. Then the Supreme Court ruled that all prisoners are protected by the Geneva Conventions. And some Pentagon officials sought a classified section to include other, secret techniques. In the end, the Army's Lieutenant General Jeff Kimmons said the new rules were simple.

Lieutenant General JEFF KIMMONS (United States Army): The new field manual incorporates a single standard for humane treatment for all detainees, regardless of their status under all circumstances, and there are no others.

HENDREN: The new rules ban tactics like hooding prisoners and stripping them naked. The manual includes 16 interrogation tactics from the old rules and adds three more: a good cop/bad cop routine, a false flag scenario that makes prisoners think they are not under American control, and it also approves one technique the Geneva Accords prohibit for war - isolation from other prisoners.

As President Bush described the new rules, he praised the old rules. He said one reason terrorists have not succeeded in attacking the United States since 9/11 is because the administration has given military, intelligence, and law enforcement the tools they need to question captured prisoners.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I can say that questioning the detainees in this program has given us information that has saved innocent lives, by helping us stop new attacks here in the United States and across the world.

HENDREN: The president singled out al-Qaida operative Abu Zubayah as a detainee who yielded significant information, including naming Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind behind 9/11. One technique used to get that information, according to administration officials, was water-boarding - a simulated drowning. That is one of eight interrogation techniques specifically banned under the new Pentagon rules, as Lieutenant General Kimmons told reporters at the Pentagon.

Lt. Gen. KIMMONS: They may not use water-boarding. They may not use hyperthermia or treatment which will lead to heat injury. They will not perform mock executions. They may not deprive detainees of the necessary food, water, and medical care. And they may not use dogs in any aspect of interrogations.

HENDREN: David Scheffer is a former U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes in the Clinton administration. He now teaches law at Northwestern University. He says the president seems to want it both ways, praising the old interrogation techniques even as his administration repudiates them.

Mr. DAVID SCHEFFER (Former Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes): One is left with the impression in the speech that these techniques are so workable, are so useful that, in fact, they will continue to be used by the United States government. And if that's the case, then someone will have to explain the contradiction between what the president has said and what now binds the Department of Defense.

HENDREN: Larry Cox, executive director of the human rights group Amnesty International USA, says the administration has improved the image of the U.S. by accepting international prohibitions against humiliation and abuse of prisoners.

Mr. LARRY COX (Executive Director, Amnesty International USA): Well, it's a positive step if it means that this administration will fully embrace the internationally recognized meaning of what it means not to humiliate and abuse detainees. If, as has happened in the past, we see the United States applying its own interpretation of what that means, then we may once again be in the same situation that we've been in, in the past; and we may actually continue to do damage to our image.

HENDREN: There are some potential loopholes. The new rules apply only to interrogation in Defense Department prisons. Although President Bush said yesterday that he was moving 14 prisoners from secret CIA prisons around the globe, there is nothing in the new rules to prevent the CIA from questioning prisoners again outside the new rules. And the Army can alter the rules in its own regular updates.

John Hendren, NPR News, Washington.

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New Army Manual Bans Torture, Including Hooding

An Iraqi man looks at photos of prisoners. Credit: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images. i

An Iraqi man looks at posters in May 2005 showing Iraqi prisoners held in the notorious U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. A new U.S. military manual bans the use of torture techniques such as hooding and forced nakedness. Karin Sahib/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Karin Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
An Iraqi man looks at photos of prisoners. Credit: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images.

An Iraqi man looks at posters in May 2005 showing Iraqi prisoners held in the notorious U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. A new U.S. military manual bans the use of torture techniques such as hooding and forced nakedness.

Karin Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new Army manual bans torture and degrading treatment of prisoners, for the first time specifically mentioning forced nakedness, hooding and other procedures that have become infamous during the five-year-old war on terrorism.

Delayed more than a year amid criticism of the Defense Department's treatment of prisoners, the new Army Field Manual was being released Wednesday, revising one from 1992.

It also explicitly bans beating prisoners, sexually humiliating them, threatening them with dogs, depriving them of food or water, performing mock executions, shocking them with electricity, burning them, causing other pain and a technique called "water boarding" that simulates drowning, said Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence.

Officials said the revisions are based on lessons learned since the United States began taking prisoners in the war on terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Release of the manual came amid a flurry of announcements about U.S. handling of prisoners, which has drawn criticism from Bush administration critics as well as domestic and international allies.

The Pentagon also announced an overall policy statement on prisoner operations. And President Bush acknowledged the existence of previously secret CIA prisons around the world where terrorism suspects have been held and interrogated, saying 14 such al-Qaida leaders had been transferred to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay and will be brought to trial.

Human-rights groups and some nations have urged the Bush administration to close the prison at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since not long after it opened in 2002 with prisoners from the campaign against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Scrutiny of U.S. treatment of prisoners shot to a new level in 2004 with the release of photos showing U.S. troops beating, intimidating and sexually abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq — and then again with news of the secret facilities.

Though defense officials earlier this year debated writing a classified section of the manual to keep some interrogation procedures a secret from potential enemies, Kimmons said Wednesday that there is no secret section.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said from the start of the counter-terror war that prisoners are treated humanely and in a manner "consistent with Geneva Conventions."

But Bush decided shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks that since it was not a conventional war, "unlawful enemy combatants" captured in the fight against al-Qaida would not be considered POWs and thus would not be afforded the protections of the convention.

The new manual, called "Human Intelligence Collector Operations," applies to all the armed services. It doesn't cover the CIA, which also has come under investigation for mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan and for keeping suspects in secret prisons.

Sixteen of the manual's 19 interrogation techniques were covered in the old manual and three new ones were added on the basis of lessons from the counter-terror war, Kimmons said.

The additions are that interrogators may use the good-cop/bad-cop tact with prisoners, they may portray themselves as someone other than an American interrogator, and they may use "separation," basically keeping prisoners apart from one another so enemy combatants can't coordinate their answers.

The last will be used only on unlawful combatants, not POWS, only as an exception and only with permission of a high-level commander, Kimmons said.

Also Wednesday, the Pentagon released a new policy directive on detention operations that says the handling of prisoners must — at a minimum — abide by the standards of the Geneva Conventions and lays out the responsibilities of senior civilian and military officials who oversee detention operations.

"The revisions ... took time," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Cully Stimson said at the briefing. "It took time because it was important to get it right, and we did get it right."

He said the directive pulls together policy changes recommended in a dozen investigations done after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke.

"By publishing this document and the Army Field Manual, we will have addressed over 95 percent of the recommendations from those 12 major investigations since Abu Ghraib," Stimson said.

Amnesty International USA's director, Larry Cox, said he was "pleased to see a direct repudiation of tactics previously approved for use against detainees such as hooding, the use of dogs," as well as the acknowledgment that the Geneva Conventions apply.

Among members of Congress briefed on the manual Wednesday, Democrats praised it as a step in the right direction and potentially helpful in preventing future prisoner abuse.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said he was concerned that, because the techniques are unclassified, information from the manuals could be used by terrorists to resist interrogations.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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