Pentagon bans abusive interrogation methods

  • World
  • Thursday, 07 Sep 2006

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Forced nudity, hooding, using dogs, conducting mock executions or simulated drownings were among eight abusive interrogation practices banned under new rules unveiled by the U.S. military on Wednesday. 

The Pentagon, still facing international criticism over the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners two years after the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, unveiled long-awaited changes to the 1992 Army Field Manual governing interrogation of detainees held by the military. 

The manual explicitly prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. But it keeps 16 long-standing interrogation techniques and adds three new ones, said Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence. 

"No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices," he said. Intelligence obtained under duress, he added, would have "questionable credibility" and do more harm than good when the abuse inevitably became public. 

Practices still permitted include rewarding detainees for cooperation, flattery and instilling fear. Two of the new techniques were the use of a good-cop, bad-cop approach and allowing interrogators to portray themselves as someone other than a U.S. interrogator. 

A third new technique, called "separation," can be used only on detainees deemed "enemy combatants" to keep them away from one another, and only with high-level military approval. 

The Pentagon also issued a directive affirming that detainees designated as "unlawful enemy combatants," including accused al Qaeda and Taliban members, would receive fewer rights than traditional prisoners of war. 

However, they would for the first time be covered by protections against inhumane treatment contained in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, in line with a Supreme Court ruling handed down last June. 

Interrogators may not force a detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts or pose in a sexual manner, and cannot place hoods or sacks over a detainee's head or use duct tape over the eyes. They may not beat or electrically shock or burn a detainee or inflict other physical pain or sensory deprivation. 

They may not use "water-boarding," a type of simulated drowning, or perform mock executions. They may not burn detainees or deprive them of necessary food, water and medical care. And they may not use dogs in interrogations. 

Photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib showed U.S. personnel posing with naked and hooded prisoners and using dogs to intimidate them. 

These rules do not apply to the CIA. President George W. Bush said he was continuing a CIA program for questioning terrorism suspects and noted the agency had an "alternative set of procedures" for interrogations. 

Larry Cox, Amnesty International's USA executive director, said he was "pleased to see a direct repudiation of tactics previously approved for use against detainees" although he was still concerned about the expansive definition of "unlawful enemy combatant." 

(Additional reporting by Kristin Roberts) 

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