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July 20, 2007

Raw Story gets full text of Bush executive order on torture

The president issued an executive order banning "cruel and unusual" treatment of detainees who are suspected of belonging to terrorist organizations, supportings, or possessing information the might be useful for the United States in combating terrorism.

In addition to banning torture and cruel and unusual interrogation techniques, the CIA is specifically prohibited from using a pair of additional techniques.

First, the order explicitly bans, "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, or using the individual as a human shield."

Second, Bush's order outlaws, "acts intended to denigrate the religion, religious practices, or religious objects of the individual."

The bill also makes clear who the CIA must apply these interrogation rules to: "a member or part of or supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated organizations; and...likely to be in possession of information that...could assist in detecting, mitigating, or preventing terrorist attacks...[or]could assist in locating the senior leadership of al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces." [Raw Story]

That's the good news.

However, the executive order also reaffirms the president's determination that (suspected) members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not prisoners of war protected by the Geneva convention--even though the order states that the US is engaged in armed conflict with these organizations. The order also reasserts the president's intention to interpret the Geneva Convention as he sees fit.


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Speaking of Ms Beyerstein (whose site I visited to check the spelling of her name for my previous post), heres how she reacts to the full text of the executive order on torture, posted by Raw Story: In addition to banning torture and cruel a... [Read More]


Damn it! If there's one thing that's always annoying, it's using a term from one area of law that already has a heavily contested meaning, then importing it to another related-but-different area. We have enough trouble arguing about cruel and unusual punishment.

Welcome back, Lindsay! Best of luck in getting back into the swing of things. Your dedication to your father and his memory has been inspiring.

The executive order doesn’t say you can't farm torture out to contractors. Then again, torture might not even be necessary when you’ve got this shit going on.

"I am a bit disconcerted that GWB was sedated for his colonoscopy. One would wish that he'd be awake for that; perhaps then it would give him a sense of empathy for what he has been doing to us for the past 7 years."

The key to stopping torture is enforcement: former prisoners who have been tortured need to be able to sue.

The Military Commissions Act bars lawsuits by prisoners who have been tortured.

Human Rights Watch reports that there are secret guidelines attached to the order (a la the secret "Annexes" in Directive 51).

The key is in the still-classified guidance distributed to CIA officers.

These could say virtually anything, and we're supposed to "trust" that Bush (or rather, Cheney, who probably wrote them) won't have overstepped the bounds.


Gee. Where were all the big box blogs on torture in June, Torture Awareness Month? Out to lunch, that's where. Thanks for all the solidarity, guys. No, really. You were fuckin' great.

"Torture Awareness Month?" I hope this doesn't get to be a regular thing.

Maiden -

Where does "Amnesty International" say that June is "Torture Awareness Month"?

I'm on their mailing list, and I got no emails from them about "Torture Awareness Month." Searching the website, I also found nothing about "Torture Awareness Month."

Eric, I agree. Some of these people can sue the US in the courts of their home countries, and those countries can seize American assets to pay for damages. Most of these people live in puppet states, though, and will have little to no recourse. As for most things, access to the courts can solve a lot of problems. If people in this country didn't have to hire private entities to see laws enforced, corporations would have to alter their predatory behavior fairly quickly. If people in other countries had the right to sue the Us in their own courts, the US would be forced to alter it's behavior as well.

FYI - Torture Awareness Month was promulgated by our organization, Torture Abolition & Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC International)some years back. TASSC is the only survivor-established, survivor-led anti-torture organization around.

An email I received from the "Center for Victims of Torture:"
CVT is encouraged that the executive order signed by the president last Friday prohibits torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, humiliation or denigration of prisoners' religious beliefs; however the order can still be interpreted to continue the worst aspects of the CIA’s program. The order does not specifically ban the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the CIA such as waterboarding, stress positions, sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation and isolation. We know these techniques amount to torture and cruelty and we know the effects. They have been used on the survivors who fled persecution in their home countries and sought treatment with us.

We cannot be confident the CIA is not using these techniques until the program has more transparency – especially when sleep is not listed as a basic necessity in the executive order. CVT supports holding the CIA to the standards outlined in the Army Field Manual for Interrogations (FM2-22.3) which acknowledge that humane methods - and not cruelty - are the most effective at garnering information.

The Executive Order also does not outlaw the CIA’s secret prisons or extraordinary rendition – a policy that allows the CIA or contractors to kidnap suspects and turn them over to countries known for brutal physical and psychological torture. These activities occur outside of the law, without public or judicial scrutiny. The Executive Order rings hollow without a ban on secret prisons and the outsourcing of torture.

CVT urges the Administration to take more meaningful steps to end the damaging polices that allow for torture and cruelty towards detainees. We must ban extraordinary rendition and ensure the CIA abides by the minimum standards in the Army Field Manual. America should not stand for secret detention cells, abusive interrogations or worldwide torture networks. Ours must be an America whose system of justice is fair and where no one is above the rule of law.

CVT: Restoring the Dignity of the Human Spirit

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