Matthew Alexander Points to the Abuse Still Permitted by the AFM Appendix
Jeff Kaye has been telling us for years that the Army Field Manual which the Obama Administration adopted as its standard for all interrogation still allows a great deal of abuse. (See his three part series from earlier this month, for example: one, two, three.)
Today, former military interrogator Matthew Alexander joins in Jeff’s calls for more attention to what is allowed by the Army Field Manual on the NYT op-ed page.
The adoption last year of the Army Field Manual as the standard for interrogations across the government, including the C.I.A., was a considerable improvement. But we missed a unique opportunity for progress last August when the president’s task force on interrogations recommended no changes to the manual, which was hastily revised in 2006 in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.
For example, an appendix to the manual allows the military to keep a detainee in “separation” — solitary confinement — indefinitely. It requires only that a general approve any extension after 30 days. Rest assured, there will be numerous waivers to even that minuscule requirement.
The Army Field Manual also does not explicitly prohibit stress positions, putting detainees into close confinement or environmental manipulation (other than hypothermia and “heat injury”). These omissions open a window of opportunity for abuse.
The manual also allows limiting detainees to just four hours of sleep in 24 hours. Let’s face it: extended captivity with only four hours of sleep a night (consider detainees at Guantánamo Bay who have been held for seven years) does not meet the minimum standard of humane treatment, either in terms of American law or simple human decency.
And if this weren’t enough, some interrogators feel the manual’s language gives them a loophole that allows them to give a detainee four hours of sleep and then conduct a 20-hour interrogation, after which they can “reset” the clock and begin another 20-hour interrogation followed by four hours of sleep. This is inconsistent with the spirit of the reforms, which was to prevent “monstering” — extended interrogation sessions lasting more than 20 hours. American interrogators are more than capable of doing their jobs without the loopholes.
The Field Manual, to its credit, calls for “all captured and detained personnel, regardless of status” to be “treated humanely.” But when it comes to the specifics the manual contradicts itself, allowing actions that no right-thinking person could consider humane.
Alexander calls for a revision to the Army Field Manual to–as he puts it–stop giving al Qaeda a recruiting tool.
Thanks to Jeff for his persistence on this issue and Matthew Alexander for now championing the issue. As Alexander points out, it has now been a year since Obama promised to end the practice of torture. It’s time to look at what we do permit and consider whether Obama has really met his goal.
Check the wording of the title? Is there a “by” missing, for instance?
Ah, thanks. Right you are.
It would be telling to find out the germination point of the first time this loophole was practiced and who, in a leadership position, signed off on the practice. Seeing the loopholes is taught and passed on.
Such information would give historic insight which may reveal a hidden pattern of praxis which may need to be broken with efforts in addition to revision of the AFM.
Thanks for the post EW.
And, “Thank you!” Jeff.
The AFM is such a handy tool. Constitution conflict with your methods? No problem! Just put ’em in the AFM appendix.
Despite all the studies that say that torture doesn’t work, I still wonder if applying AFM approved techniques would have improved Gonzo’s memory during his senate testimony.
Boxturtle (The AFM is so much easier to change than the constitution, too)
OT, maybe today we might hear that a Corporation is a person
ugh, that’s right up there with “poignant” on the stomach-wrenching scale
We have become the new improved Nazis but instead of a ” Jewish Problem” we have a “Muslim Problem”. Reading up on the three “Suicides” in 2006 leads me to believe nothing can slow down this military madness. Saying there’s a camp in a camp, that isn’t a camp sounds like Alice in Wonderland. This cancer will devour any simple human decency left in the USA, as these goons come home to roost.
Sort of OT but related: Maher Arar has started an online magazine that he calls a “security practices monitor” — iow, it’s about torture and human rights. Canwest story here.
I love to see Arar fighting back the way he has. He honours so many others by doing this.
(My boss found this first, btw. He always does.)
Also related, there has been a dramatic increase in private contractors in Afghanistan in the past four months alone. Estimated they now comprise 22 – 30% of those in direct combat.
Definitely O/T, but interesting. Krugman says he’s about ready to give up on Obama.
I have a problem with Krugman’s Thursday piece. He writes that House progressives should pass the Senate bill because it is better than nothing. Then he blames the President for not providing progressive leadership?
Pot meet kettle.
No way is Paul a friend to Progressives after that piece.
No, he isn’t, and the notion of giving us something, even though that’s next to nothing, is insulting, too. His frustrating with Obama, though, is another sign of the times. And those signs are increasing.
Thanks Jeff… thank you very much.
With Horton’s piece last Monday, and now Alexander’s NYT op-ed, it’s not been a good week, at least PR wise, for the torture party.
Thanks EW for the post and the nod. The bit on “monstering” really hits home. And thanks fatster @10 for the heads up on the contractors in Afghanistan.
Gotta quick move on today, or would be posting on Matthew’s piece myself.
Thank you, Jeff, for all you do.
Jeff, thank you for your incredible work!
To everyone, you’re very welcome. But since I could never do this alone, but feel part of a community, all of whom are essentially working on the same kinds of things, I am very thankful in return to all of you.
Klynn @ 12,
“He writes that House progressives should pass the Senate bill because it is better than nothing.”
I am convinced that the only way to salvage anything out of this bad situation is
(a) for the House to pass the Senate Bill unchanged, with this deal:
(b) the psuedo-conference committee joint House-Senate leadership bill that was taking shape before the Massachusetts election become the basis for one or more *immediate* reconciliation bills to “fix” the Senate bill.
I’m not talking here about the “promise” of reconciliation bills. I’m talking about ready drafts of what the reconciliation bills will be, vetted by Senate & House leadership in advance, and approved by the Dem. caucuses in both chambers of Congress BEFORE the House vote on the current Senate Bill.
I think this is the ONLY way to get *anything* done on health care this year. I think Pelosi will be able to find the votes for the Senate bill if she can show the Dem Caucus these approved drafts of the reconciliation bills. They can’t dawdle around with this process, either. Obama needs to focus attention and show progress on the economy and unemployment, with real results by September.
And if they have nothing to show for health care reform by November, there will be huge changes in Congress, with more upsets a la Massachusetts.
Bob in AZ
“1984 is still knocking at our door ”
The only conclusion we can draw from the Obama ‘s administration ‘s appearing to adopt and defend the bushCheney legacy is that this new administration is just simply a happy smiley face for the criminal elite/corporatist that have been at the center of our slog toward fascism .
Indeed its” meet the new boss same as the old boss…”