WASHINGTON—The Pentagon issued a new interrogation manual Wednesday that specifically bans some techniques that led to abuse scandals in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The banned techniques include forcing detainees to strip naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner, according to Lt. Gen. John F. Kimmons, the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence. Interrogators also may not place hoods or sacks over detainees' heads, put duct tape over their eyes, or beat, shock with electricity or burn detainees.
The manual also bans water-boarding, which simulates the sensation of drowning, and prohibits interrogators from exposing detainees to cold temperatures or to treatment that can lead to heat injuries. Mock executions also are prohibited, and detainees can't be deprived of food, water and medical care. Dogs can't be used in any aspect of interrogations, Kimmons said.
"We have used straightforward language in the field manual for use by soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines," Kimmons said, briefing reporters at the Pentagon. "It is not written for lawyers."
The new manual, drafted in response to concerns that the old manual, written in 1992, dealt only with prisoners taken in a conventional war, applies only to prisoners in U.S. military custody. Bush administration officials declined to answer what rules guide CIA officers and others who might interrogate prisoners. A CIA spokesman who declined to be named said only that there are no prisoners currently in CIA custody.
The new manual was scheduled for release last spring, but was delayed as officials battled over whether to keep some authorized techniques secret.
In the end, however, the Pentagon made the entire manual public. "We . . . felt that even classified techniques, once you use them on the battlefield over time, become increasingly known to your enemies, some of whom are going to be released in due course," Kimmons said. "And so, on balance, in consultation with our combatant commanders, we decided to go this route. We're very comfortable with it; so are our combatant commanders."
The manual authorizes 18 interrogation techniques, 16 of which were permitted under the 1992 manual, plus two new ones, Kimmons said. The new ones are "Mutt and Jeff," or good cop/bad cop, and "false flag," in which an interrogator can pose as someone other than an American to gain information.
The manual also includes a technique called "separation," which can be used only on "unlawful enemy combatants"—the term the Bush administration uses to describe captured terror suspects. The technique allows interrogators to keep terror suspects apart from each other so they can't coordinate their stories.
"It's for the same reason that police keep murder suspects separated while they're questioning them, although this is within an interrogation context," Kimmons said.
The new manual's release was accompanied by a seven-page Defense Department directive that prohibits a long list of acts: "cruel, inhumane treatment or punishment; outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation, the taking of hostages, collective punishment, execution without proper trial or authority; threats or acts of violence, including rape or forced prostitution; assault and theft, public curiosity, bodily injury and reprisals."
Under the directive, prisoners can't be subjected to medical or scientific experiments or sensory deprivation. The directive was signed Tuesday by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.
Several of the directive's requirements appeared designed to address problems that surfaced during investigations into prison practices in Iraq, where the Central Intelligence Agency was alleged to have hidden "ghost detainees" from Red Cross officials during their visits to Abu Ghraib and other prisons. The new directive requires that all prisoners be registered and allowed access to Red Cross representatives.
The directive also orders Defense Department personnel to report possible or suspected mistreatment of prisoners.
Human rights groups and Bush administration critics welcomed the new interrogation rules.
"If the administration had listened to its military lawyers several years ago, much of the damage done to our credibility caused by detainee mistreatment in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and at Abu Ghraib might have been avoided," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. He said the guidelines outlined in the field manual would also help ensure proper treatment of U.S. troops if they're taken prisoner.
Hina Shamsi, a lawyer with Human Rights First, said the new rules on interrogation bring "some real welcome specificity" to detainee treatment, though she expressed concern about the manual's authorization of separation for terror suspects.
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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