[JURIST] The US Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] on Thursday added a provision to the 2007 defense spending bill which would require the Bush administration to provide "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 provision was inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 [S 2507 summary] as the committee completed markup [press release, PDF] of the bill. The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 [JURIST document], passed as part of the 2006 military spending bill, prohibits "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" of detainees "under the physical control of the United States Government," but clear rules defining these terms have yet to be provided to military interrogators. US Defense Department [official website] officials have been updating the Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation [current text] to provide clearer guidelines, but the revised manual has not yet been released [JURIST report], supposedly due to debate on whether specific guidelines on interrogation techniques [JURIST report] should be classified. The Defense Department's draft would keep secret specific descriptions of what constitutes acceptable interrogation practices, but Armed Services Committee members 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 US House is set to vote on its defense spending bill next week, and the full Senate could begin debate on the Senate version by the end of the month. The interrogation opinion provision will become law only if it is still included in the reconciled version of the spending bill eventually passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. AP has more.