Interrogation Tactics Won't Be Secret
A currency trader works at the foreign exchange dealing room of the Korea Exchange Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Asian companies deriving significant sales revenue from exports slumped a day after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that euro countries are at risk of falling into a "severe recession." South Korea's Kospi lost 1.10 percent or 20.07 points at 1,806.62. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man) / Lee Jin-man
Two senior officials said there will not be a classified section in the long-awaited revision of the Army Field Manual. One of the officials said descriptions of interrogation techniques initially planned for the classified section are either being made public or are being eliminated as tactics that can be used against prisoners. The officials requested anonymity because the manual has not been completed.
One human rights group hailed the decision.
"I think this is huge," said Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First. "It's a very significant step toward creating the kind of clarity in the rules that military personnel have said that they lack and that led to a lot of the abuses."
Military leaders have argued that disclosing all the interrogation techniques public would make it easier for enemy prisoners to resist questioning.
The military's treatment of detainees has been under increased scrutiny since the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal in Iraq became known two years ago. Photographs that surfaced at the time showed U.S. troops beating, intimidating and sexually abusing prisoners.
Human rights groups have also called for the Bush administration to close the detention center at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where three detainees committed suicide late last week.
Defense Department officials have been at odds over whether details of some interrogation procedures should remain secret and published in a classified section.
But last month, several members of Congress privately cautioned the Pentagon against doing that. The standoff has contributed to the long delay in releasing the manual, which has been in the works for more than a year.
Congress members argued that including a secret section — that would detail what interrogators can and can't do to prisoners — could fuel concerns both at home and abroad that the U.S. military was hiding torture techniques that violate the law or rules governing detainee treatment.
As originally planned, the classified section would have included details such as how long prisoners can be forced to sit or stand in certain positions or how hot or cold their holding areas can be kept. The defense officials did not say which interrogation techniques would be included in the manual.
Opponents said greater transparency would dispel suspicions that the military was trying to exploit legal loopholes.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said for the first time last month that officials were at odds over whether the manual should endorse different interrogation techniques for enemy insurgents than are allowed for regular prisoners of war.
There are concerns such a distinction could violate a law enacted last year that explicitly banned cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners by U.S. troops.
Massimino, of Human Rights First, said that the new law, pressed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would ensure that any interrogation technique not included in the manual would be considered illegal. She said it also would help clear up any confusion troops may have had over what tactics are allowed.
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