Feinstein Clarifies Torture Clarification
Thursday, December 04, 2008 at 5:22 pm
Yesterday, in an interview with The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) appeared to leave rhetorical wiggle room about whether the CIA could use torture during interrogations. Her staff clarified the statement, and then clarified to me a little further — though I shouldn’t have said in my updated headline that the Times misquoted her. But now, following continued concerns voiced by Glenn Greenwald and others, it seems she has clarified the clarified clarification.
Here’s what she told Time’s Michael Scherer:
I strongly believe there should be a single, clear standard for interrogation across the federal government, and that this standard should comply with the Geneva Convention, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and U.S. law. I plan to introduce legislation in January that would close Guantanamo, make the Army Field Manual the single standard for interrogations, prohibit contractors from being used to carry out interrogations and provide the International Committee of the Red Cross with access to detainees. If the incoming administration decides to propose an alternative to this legislation, I am willing to hear its views. But I believe we must put an end to coercive interrogations by the CIA.
This is clearly more specific about what Feinstein, the incoming chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, thinks is appropriate in interrogations. She clarifies that she isn’t backing away from making the Army Field Manual on Interrogations the proper government-wide standard, which her previous statement didn’t do. And it’s hard to see, after this statement, how Feinstein is taking any position that could remotely be construed as lax on torture.
What still confuses me is why she stepped out into these waters in the first place. Did she misspeak? Sure, OK, we all do from time to time. Was she trying not to get out in front of the still-coalescing Obama administration? Or is there actually some significant push from some unknown-to-me quarter, in either the new administration or the intelligence community, to resist making the Army Field Manual the new interrogation standard?
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