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Congress Passes Measure Banning the CIA's "Enhanced" Interrogation Techniques

PHR Praises Passage of Legislation; President Bush Must Not Veto Bill Prohibiting Use of Torture

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) praised yesterday's historic passage by the US Senate of a bill that extends the standards of the Army Field Manual (AFM) for detainee treatment and interrogation to the CIA and all other US agencies. Now, as the bill heads to President Bush's desk for his signature, PHR strongly calls on the White House not to veto this legislation effectively prohibiting the CIA's "enhanced" regime of interrogation techniques, which can constitute torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, according to Leave No Marks, a recent PHR report.

"Congress has finally acted to end the systematic regime of physical and psychological torture authorized by the Bush Administration, and in so doing, has moved to restore the United States' as a nation that does not torture and that follows the rule of law," stated Leonard Rubenstein, President of PHR. "It is imperative that President Bush immediately signs this bill so this shameful episode in our history comes to an end. If he vetoes the bill, however, Congress must vote to override it and bring the CIA into compliance with domestic and international law in defiance of President Bush's support for torture."

Congress' passage of the bill comes on the heels of assertions by the Attorney General, the White House spokesperson and Vice President Cheney that waterboarding is legal. The Bush Administration contends that waterboarding and other illegal interrogation tactics can be authorized by the president with approval by the Department of Justice.

"Doctors and other health professionals know that waterboarding and other, related torture tactics cause severe and lasting harm to the mental and physical health of those subjected to them," said Rubenstein. "Both US law and the medical literature are clear–the techniques still available for CIA interrogations are illegal and destroy lives. The bill passed by the Senate bans these abhorrent practices."

While PHR strongly supports making the AFM the universal standard for detainee treatment and interrogation by all US government agencies, PHR has publicly called for amendments to the AFM. PHR is concerned specifically about "Appendix M" of the AFM, a section authorizing the use of isolation, sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation in some circumstances. These concerns have been raised by PHR with the Department of Defense, which has been encouraged to review "Appendix M". The tactics prohibited by the Army Field Manual include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Mock executions
  • Water boarding
  • Other forms of simulated drowning or suffocation
  • Sexual humiliation
  • Rape
  • Cultural humiliation
  • Religious humiliation
  • Exploitation of phobias or psychopathology
  • Induced hypothermia
  • Use of psychotropic drugs or use of other mind-altering substances for the purposes of eliciting information
  • Forced nakedness
  • Stress positions
  • Use of dogs to threaten or intimidate
  • Physical assault including slapping and shaking
  • Exposure to extremes of heat and cold
  • Sensory deprivation
  • Threatened use of these techniques or other harm to the detainee
  • Threatened use of these techniques or other harm to the detainee's family

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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