Gonzales defends specification of Geneva standards in Bush detainee bill

Gonzales defends specification of Geneva standards in Bush detainee bill

[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] told a press conference [transcript] Monday that specification of banned interrogation methods in military commissions legislation [text, PDF; White House factsheet] drafted by the Bush administration currently under consideration in Congress is vital to US counterterrorism efforts and is necessary to provide CIA interrogators with clear guidance on acceptable practices. Gonzales reiterated his previous contentions [JURIST report] that Common Article 3 [text] of the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials] needs to be clarified in order for interrogators to clearly comply with its provisions:

You have opinions all across the board about what certain words mean in Common Article 3. There are certain practices, such as torture, murder, maiming, certain serious offenses that are clearly prohibited that we all agree with that should be outlawed. But certain other kinds of practices, there is some serious question as to whether or not they would be permitted under Common Article 3, given the language such as outrages upon personal dignity, particularly humiliating and degrading treatment, and if you look to see how those words have been interpreted by foreign tribunals, it does create uncertainty for our men and women, as the President said, who are engaged in collecting information to protect America.

Gonzales' remarks follow President Bush's own push for the legislation and the defined Common Article 3 instances at a Rose Garden press conference [JURIST report] Friday and again in his weekly radio address [JURIST report].

Bush's proposal is currently competing for passage with another bill approved [JURIST report] Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] which rejects Bush's bid to narrowly define the Geneva Conventions' standards for humane treatment of prisoners, fearing that it could lead other countries to interpret the Convention to meet their own needs, thus putting US troops at risk of abuse. AP has more.

8:45 PM ET – A White House spokesman said late Monday that the administration was sending new language to Congress in an effort to address legislators' concerns over the President's bill. An administration official who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity said the revised language related to the Geneva Convention obligations, but would give no further details. AP has more.