Friday, July 20, 2007

Bush bans torture: now we must keep him to his promise

Courtesy of

US President George W. Bush on Friday signed an executive order banning the use of torture of suspected terrorists in the Central Intelligence Agency's detention and interrogation program.

The order, a copy of which was released by the White House, says that the CIA program whose existence Bush confirmed in September 2006 must abide by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on wartime detainees.

"I hereby determine that Common Article 3 shall apply to a program of detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency as set forth in this section," Bush said in the order.

In a separate statement, Bush spokesman Tony Snow said that the order barred 'cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment' and 'acts of violence serious enough to be considered comparable to murder, torture, mutilation, and cruel and inhuman treatment.'"

"It also prohibits 'willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts beyond the bounds of human decency.'

"And the order forbids acts intended to denigrate detainees religion, religious practices, or religious objects," said Snow.

CIA director Michael Hayden told Agency employees in a statement that the order was necessary in order to make sure that the detention and interrogation problem followed recent US Supreme Court rulings.

Hayden echoed the frequent White House charge that Common Article 3 "contains vague language that has been subject to a variety of interpretations, not only within the US but internationally."

But the order "gives us the legal clarity we have sought. It gives our officers the assurance that they may conduct their essential work in keeping with the laws of the United States," said Hayden.

"Any CIA terrorist detention and interrogation effort will, of course, meet those requirements," he said in an unapologetic statement that defended past interrogation practices that critics have called torture.

"Simply put, the information developed by our program has been irreplaceable," said Hayden.

"If the CIA, with all its expertise in counterterrorism, had not stepped forward to hold and interrogate people like Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the American people would be right to ask why," he said.

"We have shouldered that responsibility for just one reason: to learn all we can about our nation's most deadly and fanatical enemies so that our operations to undermine them are as effective as possible," said Hayden.

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