By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 9, 2006
The chief architect of the new Army field manual on interrogations said yesterday that the document aims to preserve the memory of the detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere so future generations of U.S. soldiers do not repeat the same mistakes.
Thomas Gandy, a senior civilian Army intelligence official, told reporters at the Pentagon that the new manual's explicit guidelines on what U.S. military personnel can and cannot do when questioning detainees arose out of the alarming photographs from Abu Ghraib and the dozen military investigations that examined abuse reported in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. He said it was important to "keep these things vivid" so soldiers understand their boundaries and the effects of crossing them.
The manual, which is an extensive volume covering U.S. human intelligence collection operations, reads far more like direct instructions to military interrogators than did the previous field manual. It even includes highlight boxes filled with vital points top leaders wanted to make crystal clear. One such section warns troops that acts of violence or torture could lead to criminal charges and information of questionable value.
"Use of torture by U.S. personnel would bring discredit upon the U.S. and its armed forces while undermining domestic and international support for the war effort," the manual says. "It also could place U.S. and allied personnel in enemy hands at a greater risk of abuse by their captors. Conversely, knowing the enemy has abused U.S. and allied POWs does not justify using methods of interrogation specifically prohibited by law, treaty, agreement, and policy."
None of the techniques in the manual is classified despite more than a year of discussions that nearly culminated in at least one tactic remaining cloaked, Gandy said. Officials opted against secrecy, he said, because they feared it could fuel suspicion that the Pentagon was hiding abusive tactics.
The list of things interrogators cannot do includes abuse alleged at various facilities and some that appear to come directly from Abu Ghraib photographs: forcing a detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; placing hoods or sacks over a detainee's head or putting duct tape over his eyes; beatings, electric shocks, burns or other painful tactics; "waterboarding"; using military working dogs; using extreme cold or hot temperatures; mock executions; and depriving a detainee of food, water or medical care.
The manual also specifies that military police are not to be involved in interrogations.
Gandy said the narrow definitions should not affect most U.S. military interrogators, who rely on direct questioning for 90 percent or more of their successful efforts. President Bush this week said an alternative set of standards for the CIA -- which is not public -- has been necessary for interrogating top terrorist suspects, but Gandy and other Army officials said aggressive tactics are not required.
"These tools, used effectively, are adequate to meet our needs," he said of the techniques in the new manual.
Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First, said she is concerned that the Army field manual and a new Pentagon directive on detainee treatment designate the CIA as the agency that will do the nation's dirty work under a set of secret guidelines.
"I'm afraid that they think they'll let the military stick to the law and they'll transfer all those great ideas over to civilian interrogators," Massimino said of the aggressive techniques. "It highlights the chasm between the military's rule-of-law standard and the lawlessness for civilian agencies."