Friday, May 9, 2008

Senator Kit Bond Proposes New Interrogation Procedures

Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) has changed his overall position on "waterboarding" and sent a letter to Senate colleagues yesterday that specifically named "waterboarding" as a technique to be banned, but has introduced the legislation in non-binding language:

The AP [Associated Press] reports that Bond appears to have had a change of heart and is searching for a “compromise” over how the CIA can interrogate prisoners. In a letter to fellow senators yesterday, [Thursday, May 8] Bond proposed explicitly outlining what tactics are banned, rather than which ones are allowed:

One proposal has been to require our intelligence agencies, when conducting interrogations of individuals in their custody, to use only the nineteen techniques explicitly authorized by the Army Field Manual (AFM). This has received immediate objection by the DNI and CIA Director who expressed concern that the AFM fails to exhaust the universe of techniques that could be authorized consistent with the Geneva Conventions. I believe there is a better legislative alternative that, unlike current proposals, satisfies two key objectives: (1) to forbid the use of harsh interrogation techniques that may run afoul of the Geneva Conventions; and (2) to give our intelligence agencies the tools and flexibility they need to conduct full and timely interrogations of terrorists and other detainees.

Rather than authorizing intelligence agencies to use only those techniques that are allowed under the AFM, I believe the more prudent approach is to preclude the use of specific techniques that are prohibited under the AFM. In this way, the Congress can state clearly that certain harsh interrogation techniques will not be permissible. At the same time, this approach allows for the possibility that new techniques that are not explicitly authorized in the AFM, but nevertheless comply with the law, may be developed in the future. This alternative ensures that our intelligence operators know the exact parameters of what is lawful, rather than forcing them to rely on and interpret a Manual that was written solely for military intelligence operations.

Specified prohibitions in conjunction with intelligence interrogations would include: forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee and using duct tape over the eyes; applying beatings, electric shock, burns, or similar forms of physical pain; “waterboarding”; using military working dogs; inducing hypothermia or heat injury; conducting mock executions; and depriving the detainee of adequate food, water or medical care.

It is not known as to whether the White House would allow such legislation to go forward.
Bond, the senior Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, outlined his proposal in nonbinding language accompanying a bill that sets out the intelligence community's policies, programs and spending for 2009. An unclassified summary was released Thursday.

Like the 2008 version of the authorization bill — which President Bush vetoed — the 2009 bill restricts the CIA to using only the 19 interrogation techniques approved by the military in the Army Field Manual. Bond said he would seek to attach his proposed compromise to this or other legislation.

Bond's change of heart on the seriousness of the technique of "waterboarding" is all the more evident by comparing his most recent efforts to a statement made on PBS in December, 2007:
SEN. KIT BOND: First, let me go back and take issue with some of the things that have just been said. Number one, what the CIA is doing is not torture. It conforms to the Detainee Treatment Act, the Geneva Convention, the Convention against Torture. None of these things that are being used, by any stretch of the imagination, could be described as torture.

Now, I think it was a terribly bad idea that in the intelligence authorization bill there was a ban imposed on the CIA using any techniques other than those in the Army Field Manual. The Army Field Manual is meant to advise junior officers in the field who are questioning the people picked up in the field who perhaps have tactical knowledge.

The information in those field manuals are included in all of the al-Qaida training, and they know how to resist those. If we are to get any information from high-value detainees, such as the ones on whose these enhanced techniques were used, then there have to be different techniques.

And I think, as a side note, I think it was absolutely outrageous that a former CIA agent would discuss these kinds of things, because once you describe what techniques are being used, and they are far less serious and threatening than techniques we use on Marines and pilots who go through our training, then the high-value detainees will never speak to us. That's why they used....

GWEN IFILL: I just would like to -- but do you think that waterboarding, as I described it, constitutes torture?

SEN. KIT BOND: There are different ways of doing it. It's like swimming, freestyle, backstroke. The waterboarding could be used almost to define some of the techniques that our trainees are put through, but that's beside the point. It's not being used.

There are some who say that, in extreme circumstances, if there is threat of an imminent major attack on the United States, it might be used, but I certainly would not favor it in any circumstance..

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