Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Journalist Reports the Truth About Appendix M

William Fisher has written an outstanding yet brief article summarizing the case against the use of abusive techniques of interrogation in the Army Field Manual. The worst methods appear in the last pages of the manual, labeled Appendix M.
John Bradshaw, Director of PHR’s [Physicians for Human Rights] office in Washington, DC, told IPS [Inter Press Service], “The technique of separation allowed by Appendix M sounds innocuous, but in reality it allows the use of sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation and isolation.”

“Particularly when used in combination, these techniques amount to psychological torture. The Obama Administration must close this loophole in the Army Field Manual by eliminating Appendix M, which leaves the door open to torture,” he said.

Legal experts agree. Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers Guild, told IPS, “President Obama’s announcement that the United States will not engage in torture is commendable. But cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law, as specified by three treaties we have ratified. The new administration should not use the Army Field Manual as the gold standard for interrogations since Appendix M sanctions techniques, including isolation and prolonged sleep deprivation, that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
The bulk of the article concentrates on the use of medical professionals in the U.S. torture program. Fisher notes, for instance, that the International Committee of the Red Cross called the participation of doctors and other health professionals, such as psychologists, as part of the interrogation program at Guantanamo a “flagrant violation of medical ethics.”

I should note, that Bill Fisher quotes this blog and some statements of mine favorably, for which I am grateful. It gives one hope that thoughtful and careful journalists are increasingly asking questions about the current proposals to make the AFM the "single standard" for U.S. interrogations. What they are finding is that the important medical, legal, and human rights activists and organizations find the AFM's interrogation techniques to amount, in toto, to torture.

Thank you, Bill Fisher, for helping further the cause of purging torture for good in this country, by critically examining the statements of President Obama about the supposedly humane procedures of the Army Field Manual, and the alarmist, crackpot views of ex-Bush administration officials, like John Yoo, who wrote in today's Wall Street Journal that the AFM doesn't go far enough in allowing freedom to use "coercive interrogation techniques,"


Stop Canadian Complicity in Torture said...

I am not sure if my comment was added, so, I am trying again...sorry if duplicated

At a hearing , John Conyers clearly mentions "interrogation of detainees AND OTHERS"

It looks like that this may shed some light on the "separation" mentioned ("Like spies and saboteurs"? Where did Kimmons come up with that? ")

The reference is made at 8 minutes, 59 seconds into the House Committee Judiciary hearing on Dec 20, 2007.

The hearing title is "Federal Laws and Detainee Interrogation" - product ID 203151-1 on C-Span

This hearing wa unavailable recently but , for some reason, it is back ...

("Interrogation of detainees AND OTHERS" )

Tahoe said...

Hi, Valtin,

Just finished reading William Fisher's article in support of your article re the AFM and "Appendix M." Very nice article.

I don't know if you are aware of this effort as yet, but if you aren't, I wanted to make sure you knew of it. I received an e-mail this afternoon from the CCR, urging me to sign a letter to President Obama, calling attention to the AFM and the flawed Appendix M. I am attaching a link from the e-mail (if you would like a copy of the e-mail, too, please let me know), which links to the letter and the "prologue" to signing the letter. Here's the link: CCR

So, little by little, your concerns as expressed in your article are getting more and more attention --- excellent!


P.S. Have not yet gotten to your latest on, but will even if it goes off the radar!

Anonymous said...

Good luck when they let one of these guys go and he flys a plane into a building that one of your loved ones has to chose death by jumping or by fire. It would be nice to treat them humanly-but sadly they may not be human.

Valtin said...

Stop Canadian -- That quote is odd. I'll look into it.

Tahoe -- I saw the article and Mr. Fisher had ran some of it by me beforehand. I wrote a blog piece subsequently. But thanks, because you never know what you'll miss in this business.

Anonymous -- I'm sorry you are stuck with that horrific nightmare in your head. That was truly one terrible terrorist attack.

Tahoe said...


Thank you for the kind words in your comment in the blog article.

I would just like to remind you that Edger has put forth a lot of effort in getting your article "out there," as well.


Valtin said...

To "Stop Canadian Complicity in Torture":

You are absolutely correct re Conyer's quote, and he appears to be reading it as he speaks, so this was no slip of the tongue.

Who are the "others"? In the context of looking into the CIA torture of "high-value" detainees, like Khalid Sheihk Mohammad, one wonders if this is a reference to the interrogation of the latter's family members. That's my initial thought, as too many children, in particular, of alleged Al Qaeda detainees, including one of Aafia Siddiqui's chilren, have disappeared, and are believed to either be held by the CIA, the Pakistanis, or are dead.

This will definitely be worth pursuing in the weeks and months to come. But I don't know where to go to from here. Perhaps asking for a clarification from Conyer's office would be a beginning.

Do you have any ideas of your own?

Tahoe said...

Hi, Valtin,

If you haven't seen the comments in your latest post on the CCR, you should take a look, as David Swanson also published William Fisher's article. But, if you don't get to the comments quickly, here's the link Drop the Stupid Military Manual and Just Obey the Laws (That's David Swanson intro to the article. That's pretty funny, all by itself, in light of the past 8 years.)


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.