New DoD Directive on Detainees Allows Sleep and Sensory Deprivation, Biometric IDs

By: Wednesday September 17, 2014 6:00 pm

On August 19, 2014, the Department of Defense released an updated version of its Directive 2310.01E on the “DoD Detainee Program.” It supercedes the previous version, dated September 5, 2006.

Earlier this month, Steve Vladek at the Just Security blog, pondered why the government chose this particular time to release the new, updated directive. While his observations are important and worth considering, much of importance is omitted from his brief analysis.

In my analysis — besides the potential legalities explored by Vladek, which impact the definition of what the government considers the definition of an “unprivileged belligerent” (like the detainees at Guantanamo), and access of legal counsel to these prisoners — the new directive propounds a number of new rules that summarize the Obama administration’s detainee regime, particularly as it relates to Guantanamo.

 

Obama Admits He Banned Only “Some” of the CIA’s Torture Techniques

By: Sunday August 3, 2014 4:00 pm

There was a cascade of coverage of the President’s August 1 remarks concerning John Brennan and his defense of his embattled CIA chief, as Obama was also widely derided for his seeming defense of those who tortured “some folks” after 9/11. (Obama did not mention that the order to torture came from the Oval Office.)

“Well, at least he called the crimes out as ‘torture,” some observers noted. Others, including some in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), called for John Brennan’s resignation as CIA director after he admitted the CIA had spied on Congressional investigators who were writing a thousands-of-pages-long report on the CIA Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program.

An Executive Summary of that report, in a censored version produced by the CIA itself, is now back in the hands of the SSCI, who may or may not release it soon. The Committee has already decided the full 6000 or so page report itself will not be released for years (if ever), a cover-up of immense proportions.

Psychologists’ Call for End to Abusive Interrogation Techniques in Army Field Manual

By: Saturday May 3, 2014 5:20 pm

A group of psychologists who have been outspoken in opposing the use of U.S. medical professionals in interrogations have released a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel condemning the ongoing use of interrogation techniques amounting to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners.

The use of such techniques are found in the current Army Field Manual (PDF), and in particular in its special Appendix M, which summarizes a set of techniques, under the label “separation,” that are only meant to be used on prisoners who the U.S. government claims don’t meet the additional Prisoner of War protections of the Geneva Conventions — prisoners like those held in indefinite detention at Guantanamo.

DoD Directive Used Duplicity to Hide Current Use of SERE Torture Techniques in Interrogations

By: Monday April 21, 2014 8:57 am

Currently, the use of SERE techniques is supposedly banned for use by both CIA and Defense Department interrogators.

But a key U.S. Defense Department directive rewritten only a month before Barack Obama was first elected President used a legalistically-carved definition for SERE techniques to hide the fact that important components of the SERE interrogation techniques that could amount to torture were still available to U.S. interrogators.

More on the Press and the Question of Torture in the Army Field Manual

By: Thursday January 16, 2014 6:47 am

“Torture is immoral under all circumstances.  It represents an extreme and shocking form of violating the human person.  Like slavery, genocide and rape, it is never justified.”

Blue Ribbon Task Force Says Army Field Manual on Interrogation Allows Torture, Abuse

By: Tuesday November 5, 2013 4:10 pm

A report by a multidisciplinary task force, made up largely of medical professionals, ethicists and legal experts, has called on President Obama to issue an executive order outlawing torture and other abusive techniques currently in use in the military’s Army Field Manual on interrogations. The Task Force, which wrote the report for The Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF), has also called on the Department of Defense to rewrite the Army Field Manual in accordance with such an executive order.

But politically, it has been difficult for the issue of abuse in the Army Field Manual to get traction.

Violence at Guantanamo? Detainees Desperately Fight for their Humanity

By: Tuesday April 16, 2013 6:25 am

The headlines were ablaze with stories regarding the outbreak of violence at Guantanamo, as on April 13 the military mounted raids in the dead of night to force hunger-striking prisoners from the communal living in the prison’s Camp 6 into solitary confinement isolation cells in the hated confines of Camp 5.

Considering the way the military has handled the situation at Guantanamo — forbidding reporters at the island, making nice to the ICRC only to conduct violent raids on detainees as soon as Red Cross officials leave, force-feeding hunger-striking detainees against all medical ethics and protocols — you’d think the Pentagon thought they had another Koje-do prison camp rebellion on their hands

Serious Questions About Wikileaks’ Release of Purported Guantanamo SOP

By: Tuesday February 26, 2013 5:53 am

The non-coverage of Wikileaks’ “Detainee Policies” on interrogation documents after their initial release is in itself astounding, but even more surprising is the fact that when examined some of the documents don’t appear to be what they are claimed to be. What follows is analysis, with response by both Wikileaks and DoD.

Omar Khadr Leaves Guantanamo, While Press Refuses to Report His Water Torture

By: Saturday September 29, 2012 12:45 pm

On a pre-dawn Saturday morning, September 29, the youngest prisoner in Guantanamo, Omar Khadr left the harsh US-run prison where he had been held since October 2002. At the time of his incarceration he was fifteen years old. According to a CBC report, Khadr was flown to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where he was to be transferred to the Millhaven Institution, a maximum security prison in Bath, Ontario.

Khadr is supposed to serve out the remainder of an eight-year sentence, part of a deal his attorneys made with the U.S. government, with Khadr agreeing to plead guilty to the killing of SPC Christopher Speer during a firefight at the Ayub Kheil compound in Afghanistan, in addition to other charges such as “material support of terrorism” and spying. Khadr essentially agreed to participate in what amounted to a show trial for the penalty phase of his Military Commissions hearing. For this, he got a brokered eight year sentence, with a promise of a transfer out of Guantanamo to Canada after a year.

APA “Casebook” on Psychologist Ethics and Interrogations Fails to Convince

By: Thursday August 25, 2011 5:00 pm

A new proposed “casebook” on psychologist ethics in national security settings, written by the Ethics Committee of the American Psychological Association (APA), tells psychologists that when assessing whether an interrogation technique is abusive or not, they should consider, among other factors, whether there are “data to support that the technique is effective in gathering accurate information.” This determination, which places the needs of the military or intelligence gathering entity above that of the person the psychologist is examining, demonstrates how blatantly unethical it is for psychologists to participate in these interrogations.

While it’s shocking that APA would call upon psychologists to weigh an interrogation technique’s “effectiveness” with other ethical standards, it’s even crazier when one considers it took them six years to write this up, having been originally tasked with writing an “ethics casebook” for interrogations back in 2005.

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