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Bush Approves New CIA Methods

Criticism of the U.S. military's treatment of detainees -- first in Afghanistan and at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and later at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- eventually provoked the Pentagon to rewrite its interrogation guidebook and explicitly ban many of the techniques endorsed and used by the CIA. But a new law enforced those limits only for detainees in military custody.

Criticism of the CIA began with revelations in late 2005 that the agency had imprisoned and interrogated "high-value" suspects in secret prisons in third countries. But after the Supreme Court ruled last summer, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that all U.S. prisoners -- of any nationality, being held in any country -- were covered by Geneva protections against degrading treatment, Bush publicly confirmed the existence of the CIA prisons and announced that 14 remaining CIA prisoners had been transferred to military custody at Guantanamo.

Bush maintained the CIA interrogation program had always been legal, but the White House said the Geneva provision, Common Article 3, was vague and undefined. After the CIA suspended its "enhanced interrogations" to ensure its officers could not be charged with crimes, Congress ordered the administration to ensure, via executive order, that any further such interrogations complied with both domestic and international law.

Bush's statement said the techniques could be used against any "alien detainee" determined by the CIA director to be a member or supporter of al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated organizations likely to have information about attacks against the United States or its allies.

Over the past several months, the secret list of CIA techniques has been the subject of interagency debate at the highest levels, with the State Department anxious to avoid offending allied governments, and the Department of Defense concerned that any CIA excesses could cause U.S. soldiers captured in the future to be subject to abuses.

The intelligence official said the agency itself had studied the effectiveness of past techniques and retained or jettisoned them on a "sliding scale." The criteria, he said, were what was "appropriate, effective, lawful and sustainable." While Hayden did not get "everything [he] might have wanted" in the guidelines, the official said, they contained everything the CIA needed and "more than was asked for."

To help allay concerns, new safeguards were added, the official said. Every use of an "enhanced" technique must be personally approved by Hayden in every instance, he said. "There will be no lone wolves, interrogations will always be conducted by a team, and anybody on the team can knock it off at any time."

A senior administration official said that the new rules do not require that the International Committee of the Red Cross have access to CIA prisoners. Many other nations interpret international treaties as requiring such access for all detainees everywhere.

Staff writer Josh White contributed to this report.

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