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Bush signs order banning cruel and inhuman treatment in CIA interrogations
Bush signs order banning cruel and inhuman treatment in CIA interrogations

[JURIST] US President George W. Bush Friday signed [press release] an executive order [text] prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment during the interrogation terror suspects detained by the CIA. The White House did not reveal what specific interrogation techniques were now disallowed, but the order prohibits "acts intended to denigrate the religion, religious practices, or religious objects of the individual", and "torture" as defined in 18 USC 2340 [text]. The order also forbids:

Willful or outrageous acts of personal abuse done to humiliate or degrade someone in a way so serious that any reasonable person would "deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency, such as sexual or sexually indecent acts undertaken for the purpose of humiliation, forcing the individual to perform sexual acts or to pose sexually, threatening the individual with sexual mutilation.

The order affirms that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [PDF text] defined aspects of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention [text] for US law and that the president has the right to "interpret the meaning and application" of international standards for prisoner treatment under the Geneva Convention. The White House said that "the interpretation of Common Article 3 set forth in this Order is applied to the Central Intelligence Agency's detention and interrogation program whose purpose is to question captured Al Qaeda terrorists who have information on attack plans or the whereabouts of the group's senior leaders."

In October 2006, Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which legislatively creating military tribunals to try suspected terrorists. The military commissions bill became necessary after the US Supreme Court ruled in June 2006 that the commissions, as initially constituted by the president, lacked proper legal authorization [JURIST report]. The law addresses permissible interrogation methods, making US interrogators subject to only a limited range of "grave breaches" purporting to reflect the requirements of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, and clarified [JURIST report] what actions would subject interrogators to liability under the existing federal War Crimes Act [text; JURIST report]. AP has more.