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Reaction Quotes from Physicians for Human Rights to Speech by President Bush and Release of Revised Army Field Manual

For Immediate Release

The quotes below are reactions to today’s release of the revised Army Field Manual (DoD Directive 2310.01E—DoD Detainee Program and Army FM 2.22-3—Human Intelligence Collector Operations) by the Pentagon and to President Bush’s speech in support of legislation to prevent prosecution for those who have authorized and used abusive interrogation tactics, particularly the CIA, from Leonard Rubenstein, Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and Brigadier General Stephen Xenakis, M.D. (USA-Ret.), an advisor to PHR.

"On the same day that the Department of Defense took a stand against the torture and abuse of detainees, the President undercut the uniformed military by defending the CIA's use of extraordinary rendition and interrogation techniques that amount to torture," stated Leonard Rubenstein, Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights. "When the President had the opportunity to make the high standards of the new Army Field Manual the baseline for all national security interrogations, he instead defended the continued use of harsh tactics that violate the very guidelines the Pentagon released today."

"Though the Deputy Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence today said that the only actionable intelligence from detainees has been derived exclusively through non-coercive methods, the President, however, explicitly endorsed the CIA interrogation program that is notorious for its use of highly abusive interrogation practices that amount to torture," stated Brigadier General Stephen Xenakis, M.D. (USA-Ret.), an advisor to PHR.

[Note: in November 2005 ABC News identified 6 of the CIA's 10 "enhanced interrogation techniques," based on a report of the CIA Inspector General. These methods included water boarding, slapping, shaking, and dousing naked detainees with cold water in a cold cell, among others. Yet, the President, in his speech today, denied that the CIA's methods violated the prohibition on torture.]

"While important questions remain about the specific methods authorized in the new Field Manual, I was proud to see the US military adopt standards by which we would want our own soldiers to be treated," said Xenakis, adding, "but it is profoundly disappointing that the President continues to insist on a parallel, clandestine interrogation system in absolute conflict with our laws and values."

"The stringent standards expressed in the Army Field Manual mean nothing if the President creates a parallel system insulated from any real accountability where these abuses will continue with impunity, "stated Rubenstein. "Congress must defend the War Crimes Act from any amendment that would insulate those who authorize and engage in torture and cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment from legal accountability."

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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