Former Officials Set the Stage for Interrogation Task-Force Rollout
Under the auspices of the Center for Victims of Torture, two former officials have compiled a list of questions to set expectations for the Obama administration’s rollout of its new interrogations practices. Will Taft, a former legal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Harry McPherson, a consigliere to President Lyndon Johnson, emailed reporters the following queries:
- Does the report include a clear and specific set of lawful interrogation techniques — and is it binding on all US personnel? If a technique isn’t specifically included in that list, does that mean it is prohibited?
- During his confirmation hearing, CIA Director Leon Panetta said that he believes the President may approve, in extraordinary circumstances, interrogation techniques that are otherwise prohibited by the Army Field Manual. Does the report recommend that the President have the authority to approve, on a case-by-case basis, techniques that could amount to torture or cruelty? If so, under what circumstances may the President use this authority?
- Do the recommendations require that all approved interrogation techniques comply with the “Golden Rule” – that is, will U.S. personnel be prohibited from using any methods of interrogation that the U.S. would find unlawful and unacceptable if used against Americans?
- Will the approved interrogation techniques be completely public so that America can reestablish in the eyes of the world that we do not torture? Currently, Appendix M to the Army Field Manual for interrogation is classified.
- The President’s executive order called for the immediate closure of CIA operated detention facilities but then exempted facilities used to “hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.” Have “short-term” and “transitory” been defined?
- Will the procedures for transferring detainees to other nations ensure that those transfers absolutely will not, under any circumstances, result in detainees facing torture or cruelty?
Note the question about the Army Field Manual’s Appendix M, which blogger Jeff Kaye has focused on for a long time.