Recent news reports reveal that the CIA continues to use brutal forms of physical and psychological interrogation techniques, tactics that rise to the level of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. All US personnel need clear standards for the interrogation and detention of prisoners.
Last December, the House passed a version of the Intelligence Authorization Act with an amendment that would prohibit all US personnel, including the CIA, from using interrogation techniques not authorized by the Army Field Manual on Interrogation. The bill is now in the Senate but the amendment was blocked in a procedural move and must have 60 votes to pass. Congress requires all Department of Defense personnel to uphold the field manual standards, but not the CIA, causing confusion and dangerous gaps in national policy.
At a recent Senate hearing, Attorney General Michael Mukasey would not call waterboarding torture or rule out its use in the future. Clearly, when the U.S. Attorney General is unable or unwilling to declare waterboarding torture, it's time for Congressional action. It is time to support the amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act to establish one national standard for all U.S. personnel for the interrogation and treatment of prisoners.
"The current situation, in which the military operates under one set of interrogation rules that are public and the CIA operates under a separate, secret set of rules, is unwise and impractical. In order to ensure adherence across the government to the requirements of the Geneva Conventions and to maintain the integrity of the humane treatment standards on which our own troops rely, we believe that all U.S. personnel – military and civilian – should be held to a single standard of humane treatment reflected in the Army Field Manual."
This week Senate the will vote on important anti-torture legislation. The Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008 includes an amendment that requires the CIA to follow minimum standards of humane treatment as set forth in the U.S. Army Field Manual on Interrogation. The manual explicitly prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Chris Lugo for US Senate
9 Music Sq So #164
Nashville, TN 37203