Military to put tighter controls on questioning

November 08, 2005|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE .

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has approved a new policy directive governing interrogations by the military, a decision that in turn will allow the Army to issue new field regulations intended to tighten controls over interrogations, Defense Department officials said yesterday.

The Army intends, for example, to ensure that interrogation techniques are approved at the highest levels within the Pentagon, that interrogators are properly trained and that personnel in the field are required to report any abuses.

The changes have been under consideration since the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were disclosed nearly two years ago and reflect continuing problems with abuses by troops in Afghanistan and Iraq since then.

The new Pentagon interrogations directive, signed Thursday, is just one part of a larger policy review, begun in December, of how the Pentagon handles prisoners in military custody.

Another directive, governing all aspects of prisoner detentions, not just interrogation methods, has caused sharp debate within the Bush administration. At issue is whether the Pentagon's broad detention guidelines should include language from the Geneva Conventions barring the use of "cruel," "humiliating" and degrading treatment.

Some Defense officials said the interrogations directive was issued in part to mollify critics in Congress, where new strictures on intelligence are being debated and where an amendment to a military spending bill would ban the use of cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody.

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