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View Diary: Standing Behind a Ban on Torture (244 comments)

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    Is what I have for you and all the other military leaders you represent.  The president made it clear that it was your efforts, above all, that convinced him to take the salutary steps toward ending torture that he did.  We are a better nation, and a safer one, because of what you have done.

    If I may, however, I would like to suggest two concerns.  It will not be possible to stand behind a ban on torture, I believe, unless they are met.

    First, the president did not firmly renounce extraordinary rendition.  He deferred it for further study by the Task Force he established.  I am convinced that the US needs to apologize for this shameful practice and to offer reparations, especially in those cases where it has been shown that the suspect was actually innocent (as Canada did for Maher Arar). While the tone of the president's remarks was encouraging, his silence on rendition left room for concern.

    Second, torture will not be flushed out of our system unless a single standard of interrogation is established.  This needs to be done without loopholes.  The Army Field Manual has been set forth as the standard that all US interrogations, whether military or intelligence, must now meet.  

    While this is indeed a major step forward, the Manual itself contains a serious loophole, in the form of Appendix M.  

    Appendix M allows for something called "separation,"  which seems finally to permit sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement and "fear up."  As Physicians for Social Responsibility has pointed out, these would permit interrogation practices that violate the Geneva conventions and other laws against cruel treatment.

    I hope that leaders like you and Admiral Hutson will do everything you can to ensure that all loopholes like these are eliminated.  Thank you.

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