Monday, August 24, 2009

CVT Quizzes Obama on Army Field Manual Interrogations

H/T to Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent, who picked up on a list of questions for reporters (and by extension, the Obama administration) regarding the Special Task Force recommendations on interrogations and renditions.

The list of questions, reproduced below, were drawn up by William Taft, a former legal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Harry McPherson, an old LBJ adviser. The list is being distributed by the Center for Victims of Torture. Note, one misstatement in their list of questions. They state that Appendix M of the Army Field Manual on interrogations is classified. It is not, and can be read as part of the original document.
* Does the report include a clear and specific set of lawful interrogation techniques — and is it binding on all US personnel? If a technique isn’t specifically included in that list, does that mean it is prohibited?

* During his confirmation hearing, CIA Director Leon Panetta said that he believes the President may approve, in extraordinary circumstances, interrogation techniques that are otherwise prohibited by the Army Field Manual. Does the report recommend that the President have the authority to approve, on a case-by-case basis, techniques that could amount to torture or cruelty? If so, under what circumstances may the President use this authority?

* Do the recommendations require that all approved interrogation techniques comply with the “Golden Rule” – that is, will U.S. personnel be prohibited from using any methods of interrogation that the U.S. would find unlawful and unacceptable if used against Americans?

* Will the approved interrogation techniques be completely public so that America can reestablish in the eyes of the world that we do not torture? Currently, Appendix M to the Army Field Manual for interrogation is classified [sic].

* The President’s executive order called for the immediate closure of CIA operated detention facilities but then exempted facilities used to “hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.” Have “short-term” and “transitory” been defined?

* Will the procedures for transferring detainees to other nations ensure that those transfers absolutely will not, under any circumstances, result in detainees facing torture or cruelty?
The more I think of it, the point offered above on Appendix M is way off. The procedures are known to the world, and they represent at the least cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, if not torture, when used in combination.

I've written a series of articles on this, and for the interested reader, here's a bibliography of sorts. Note, from the beginning, Physicians for Human Rights was the organization out front on this issue, as you'll see if you read these articles. I guess Taft and McPherson missed those PHR press releases, not to mention my articles.

My first article on the AFM and Appendix M was posted at Daily Kos in September 2006, right after the current AFM was released: WTF? New Army Interrogation Manual Promotes Torture!

In June 2007, I wrote Sec. Gates: Stop SERE-type Torture! Drop Appendix M from Army Field Manual

Here's a list of articles from this year:

How the U.S. Army's Field Manual Codified Torture -- and Still Does

How the Press, the Pentagon, and Even Human Rights Groups Sold Us an Army Field Manual that (Still) Sanctions Torture

CCR: Close Torture Loopholes in Army Field Manual

Fredman's Mea Culpa, the Army Field Manual, and the Istanbul Protocol

By Yoo's Own Analysis, Army Field Manual Allows Torture with Drugs

I think anyone reading the above will gain a great deal of knowledge regarding the Army Field Manual issue. Feel free to pass this along.


limo said...

I agree with third question..

Anonymous said...

Like the Patriot Act, and the changes made to the Department of Justice's election crimes manual, the changes to the Army Field Manual must be revisited and changed.

The pattern has been established that changes were made to American documents, allowing what was formerly illegal to be made quietly legal.

This very pattern must be addressed by the Department of Justice. However, the department barely understood what happened to its own elections manual.

Remember this? From TPM:

But this is not a new development. The Justice Department under John Ashcroft began pursuing individual cases of fraud in 2002 on the theory that that such cases would deter more fraud. Five years later, there's no evidence that's the case -- instead, as The New York Times documented in the landmark piece on the subject, prosecutors have pursued cases of ex-convicts voting, people on probation voting, etc. The prior policy meant that cases were "only brought against conspiracies to corrupt the process," Craig Donsanto, the chief of the Department's Election Crimes Branch, told (pdf) the Election Assistance Commission. "For deterrence purposes," Donsanto said, "the Attorney General decided [in 2002] to add the pursuit of individuals who vote when not eligible to vote (noncitizens, felons) or who vote more than once." As the Times showed, such an aggressive policy has failed to uncover corruption of the election process, but has triumphed in prosecuting several individuals who seem to have been simply confused about whether they could vote or not. Despite such dubious results, the Justice Department has enshrined the policy in its new manual.

The new manual has also removed language from the 1995 version about investigating voter fraud shortly before the election. The past version was crystal clear saying that the Department "must refrain from any conduct which has the possibility of affecting the election itself," that investigators should be "extremely careful" about it, and that "most, if not all, investigation of an alleged election crime must await the end of the election to which the allegation relates." The new version does not supplant that policy, but certainly softens it.


So the way I see it, if these criminals were able to sneak their desired provisions into the DOJ own manual, the human rights agencies were sitting ducks. They would be manipulated in just the same ways the rest of the country was.

We have to document the patterns of behavior in order to be able to go back and make the changes to the basic documents of our country.


Anonymous said...

For the entire TPM story:

Search for Info/News on Torture

Google Custom Search
Add to Google ">View blog reactions

This site can contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.