Thursday, May 13, 2004

Remember When....

The Bush administration pledged yesterday for the first time that the United States will not torture terrorism suspects or treat them cruelly in an attempt to extract information, a move that comes as the deaths of two Afghan prisoners in U.S. custody are being investigated as homicides.

"All interrogations, wherever they may occur," must be conducted without the use of cruel and inhuman tactics, the Pentagon's senior lawyer wrote after members of Congress and human rights groups pressed the White House to renounce abusive tactics reported by U.S. government officials.

On a day when President Bush asserted that his administration intends to lead by example in a global fight against torture, Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II said that anyone found to have broken the law in the Afghanistan deaths will be prosecuted.

Human rights organizations welcomed the announcement, which went further than the Bush administration had gone before. An earlier letter from Haynes, for example, had mentioned the prohibition against torture without citing the broader category of mistreatment that is against the law in the United States.

While neither Bush nor Haynes cited specific tactics, human rights activists said the administration appeared to bar such techniques as depriving prisoners of sleep, withholding medicine and forcing them to stand at length in painful positions. U.S. authorities have used each technique against captives held abroad in the war on terrorism, according to current and former national security officials interviewed last year by The Washington Post.

(thanks to reader d)

Isn't lying to congress a crime?