[JURIST] US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] confirmed Wednesday that military officials are conflicted about the specific guidelines on interrogation techniques [JURIST report] to be included in a new Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation [current text] during a hearing with the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee [official website]. Defense officials are struggling over whether to include different standards for prisoners of war, who are protected by the Geneva Convention [text], and enemy combatants, such as those held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] who the Bush administration has said are not entitled to Geneva Convention protections. Rumsfeld did not say if the standards for interrogation would be the same for all prisoners, but he did assure the subcommittee that all techniques would comply with US law. Further delaying the release of the manual, military officials have also considered classifying portions [JURIST report] of the manual in order to prevent enemies from preparing against specific techniques; but Armed Services Committee members and rights activists have raised concerns that by keeping this information classified, there is no way to ensure that the guidelines fall within the bounds of US and international law.
The Pentagon has been working on a new version of the manual since the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] surfaced in 2004. The delays in its release have been attributed to attempts to legitimize different interrogation techniques and allow the army to effectively obtain timely information from prisoners on the battlefield, while complying with the Detainee Treatment Act [JURIST document], a measure passed by Congress last year that explicitly prohibits any cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of persons in custody of the US government. Earlier this month, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment [JURIST report] to the 2007 military spending bill which would require "a US government coordinated legal opinion on whether certain specified interrogation techniques would constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005." The call for a legal opinion has not yet become law. AP has more.