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US officials clash on terror detention policies

[JURIST] A new set of standards for handling detainees suspected of terrorism under US Department of Defense Directive 2310.1 [text] has sparked internal debate within the Bush administration. The standards currently under development use language from the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials] to prohibit "cruel," "humiliating" and "degrading" treatment of terror suspects. Advocates say that moving US detention policies closer to international law would help prevent further abuses as well as foster overseas support against the international fight against terrorism. The revised directive, known as the DoD Enemy POW Detainee Program, has received strong support from military officials. Opponents, however, have criticized the language as vague and say the standards would restrict the government's ability to combat terrorism. The debate highlights divergent views on the detention, interrogation and prosecution of terrorism suspects which has been an ongoing source of tension within and outside the government since February 2002, when President Bush made the decision to set aside the Geneva Conventions in the US fight against terrorism. In a more public setting, similar controversy surrounds an amendment to a defense appropriations bill [JURIST report] advanced by Republican Senator and former POW John McCain that would prohibit cruel and degrading treatment of detainees. Wednesday's New York Times has more.

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