Senate Intelligence Committee Passes Feinstein-Whitehouse Measures to Ban Torture, End Secret Detentions
-Amendments would ban waterboarding, use of CIA contractors in interrogations, provide Red Cross access to detainees-
May 01 2008
Washington, DC – The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has approved several measures to prohibit treatment of detainees that do not conform with America’s values and international law, including torture and secret detentions, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) announced today.
The measures were approved as amendments to the Fiscal 2009 Intelligence Authorization Act. The Committee specifically approved:
- An amendment introduced by Senator Feinstein requiring the CIA and all other U.S. intelligence agencies to follow the Army Field Manual in interrogations. The manual bans waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods;
- An amendment introduced by Senator Feinstein to prohibit the CIA from using contractors in interrogations; and
- An amendment introduced by Senator Whitehouse to provide the International Red Cross access to detainees in custody of all U.S. intelligence agencies.
“The broad effect of these three amendments will be to outlaw coercive interrogation techniques by American intelligence agencies once and for all, and to make sure that any detainee held in CIA custody is treated humanely,” Senator Feinstein said.
“These provisions will help restore America’s credibility abroad. They will establish a uniform standard for interrogating detainees in our custody, and ensure that CIA professionals are responsible for interrogations. And they will provide access to detainees by a globally respected, neutral third party. I’m pleased that they were approved by the Committee, and I urge my colleagues in both houses to pass this bill as quickly as possible.”
“The Bush Administration’s embrace of torture and secret detentions has led our country down a dark hallway,” said Whitehouse, a former Rhode Island U.S. Attorney and Attorney General.
“Never again should the practices of our government turn so far away from the values of our people. I hope these measures will help put right what has gone so badly wrong, and restore the stature and goodwill this nation had earned around the world before this Administration took office.”
Following are summaries of the amendments approved by the Committee:
Army Field Manual
This amendment by Senator Feinstein was co-sponsored by Senators Whitehouse, John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).
It reads: “No individual in the custody or under the effective control of an element of the intelligence community or instrumentality thereof, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations.”
It specifically would require the CIA and all other U.S. intelligence agencies to follow the Army Field Manual’s protocols on interrogations. This will have the effect of ensuring that the United States follows the law, including the Geneva Conventions, the Conventions Against Torture, and the Detainee Treatment Act.
The Army Field Manual specifically prohibits eight interrogation techniques:
- Forcing a detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, pose in sexual manner;
- Placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee, duct tape over the eyes;
- Beatings, electric shock, burns or other forms of physical pain;
- Use of military working dogs;
- Introducing hypothermia or heat injury;
- Conducting mock executions; and
- Depriving detainee of necessary food, water, or medical care.
The Army Field Manual allows 19 interrogation approaches, mainly based on psychological techniques, such as making a detainee believe that cooperation will shorten the length of a war and therefore save his country.
On February 13, Congress passed legislation introduced by Senators Feinstein, Hagel, Whitehouse, and Feingold that would have required the CIA to follow the Army Field Manual’s rules on interrogations. President Bush vetoed the bill on March 8.
The Army Field Manual works. Numerous military and civilian interrogation experts have testified that the practices authorized by the Army Field Manual are effective in obtaining information vital to national security, and are appropriate for the needs of America’s intelligence professionals. In addition, a group of retired generals and admirals have stated that the use of torture by the U.S. government endangers American troops.
Ban on contractors in interrogations
This amendment by Senator Feinstein was co-sponsored by Senators Feingold, Rockefeller, and Whitehouse.
It reads: “The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency may not permit a contractor or subcontractor to the Central Intelligence Agency to carry out an interrogation of an individual. Any interrogation carried out on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency shall be conducted by an employee of such Agency.”
Access for International Red Cross
This amendment by Senator Whitehouse was co-sponsored by Senators Feinstein, Hagel, Rockefeller, and Feingold.
It reads: “No funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be used to detain any individual who is in the custody or under the effective control of an element of the intelligence community or an instrumentality of such element if the International Committee of the Red Cross is not provided notification of the detention of such individual and access to such individual in a manner consistent with the practices of the Armed Forces.”
By providing the International Red Cross access to detainees held by the CIA or any other U.S. intelligence agencies, the measure is designed to end the practice of secret detentions, which runs counter to the practice of our Armed Forces, our fundamental values, and international law.
Under the Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is charged with visiting detention facilities around the world, to ensure that prisoners of war and other detainees are treated with the respect and dignity mandated by international humanitarian law.
In 2006, the ICRC visited 478,000 detainees in more than 70 countries. ICRC findings regarding conditions and treatment are treated confidentially and communicated only to the detaining authority. U.S. Defense Department policy holds that the ICRC is presumptively authorized access to prisoners of war and other military detainees.
The United States has long argued against incommunicado detention. To that end, the U.S. State Department has repeatedly criticized governments for engaging in “disappearances” in its annual human rights reports. But under the Bush Administration, the United States engaged in this practice.
By effectively eliminating secret detentions, the amendment would also strengthen America’s ability to advocate for the appropriate treatment of Americans detained overseas.