Interrogation techniques Deep, long-running conflicts...

October 01, 2006

Interrogation techniques

Deep, long-running conflicts over detention policy continued to divide the Bush administration even as it pushed legislation through Congress last week on the handling of terrorism suspects. Here are highlights of the military commissions and interrogation system, as approved by Congress:

The president would not be allowed to authorize any interrogation technique that amounted to a war crime. These include torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, murder, serious bodily injury, sexual abuse, taking hostages and biological experiments. An extensive definition of each crime is provided.

Proponents of the bill say abusive interrogation methods, including "waterboarding" - or simulated drowning - would amount to war crimes and are prohibited.

The bill does not include a provision the president wanted, interpreting U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which set international standards on prisoner treatment. Bush wanted a provision that stated an existing 2005 ban on "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" was enough to satisfy the treaty's obligations. Republican senators said this would look like the United States was redefining the Geneva Conventions standards, which are much broader.

The president could "interpret the meaning and application" of Geneva Convention standards applied to less severe interrogation procedures. Such a provision is intended to allow him to authorize methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.

Associated Press

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