22 High-Level Retired Military Leaders and Human Rights First Urge President Bush to Fully Implement the McCain Amendment

HRF Outlines Specific Steps to Ensure Effective Implementation of the Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter to President Bush that was released publicly today, 22 high-level retired military leaders expressed their concern that the McCain anti-torture law be forcefully implemented. The letter signers included the former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Hoar, USMC (Ret.) and Rear Admiral John D. Hutson, USN (Ret.), the Navy’s Judge Advocate General from 1997-2000. Human Rights First sent a separate letter to President Bush outlining the concrete steps the White House should take to ensure that the McCain Amendment is fully and effectively implemented.

The retired military leaders made clear in their letter that effective implementation of the Amendment will help protect American troops in Iraq and elsewhere, now and in the future. They urged the President to ensure the ban is effectively implemented. The leaders wrote in the letter:

“It is now incumbent on you as President and Commander-in-Chief to ensure that all senior members of your administration speak with a consistent voice to make clear that the United States now has a single standard of conduct specified in law that governs all interrogations, regardless of the legal status or the location of the detainee being interrogated…..Clear and unambiguous implementation will help ensure that our brave men and women in uniform will never again feel that to prevail against the enemy they must risk their honor or the values they fight to protect.”

In addition to Gen. Hoar and Adm. Hutson, the letter was signed by Lieutenant General Robert G. Gard, Jr., USA (Ret.); Lieutenant General Claudia J. Kennedy, USA (Ret.); Vice Admiral Al Konetzni, USN (Ret.); Lieutenant General Charles Otstott, USA (Ret.); Vice Admiral Jack Shanahan, USN (Ret.); Major General Eugene Fox, USA (Ret.); Major General John L. Fugh, USA (Ret.); Rear Admiral Donald J. Guter, USN (Ret.); Major General Fred E. Haynes, USMC (Ret.); Major General Melvyn Montano USMC (Ret.); Major General Gerald T. Sajer, USA (Ret.); Major General Robert H. Scales, USA (Ret.); Major General Michael J. Scotti, USA (Ret.); Brigadier General David M. Brahms, USMC (Ret.); Brigadier General James Cullen, USA (Ret.); Brigadier General Evelyn P. Foote, USA (Ret.); Brigadier General David R. Irvine, USA (Ret.); Brigadier General Richard O’Meara, USA (Ret.); Brigadier General John K. Schmitt, USA (Ret.); and Brigadier General Stephen N. Xenakis, USA (Ret.).

In its letter to the White House, Human Rights First outlined the following steps that would ensure clear and unambiguous implementation of the torture ban:

  • Clarify the “Signing Statement:” Immediate clarification of the “signing statement” released by the White House after the bill was signed into law on December 30, 2005 is required. Lack of clarity about the standards governing treatment of prisoners in our custody – and in particular the idea that there are exceptions to the ban on inhumane treatment – resulted in serious abuses and even deaths of prisoners in US custody.
  • Revise Internal Guidelines for Federal Agencies: Internal guidelines for federal agencies involved in interrogations, and any legal guidance to interrogators, should now be reviewed and revised wherever necessary to ensure they are in full compliance with the new law.
  • Expressly Prohibit Interrogation Methods that Violate Amendment: Methods of interrogation that violate this standard should now be expressly prohibited including: water boarding (mock drowning) and other forms of mock execution; sleep deprivation; stress positions; exposure to extreme hot and cold temperatures; striking and violent shaking; using dogs to terrify; forced nakedness; and sexual humiliation.
  • Ensure the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation Comports with the Ban: Since the Manual currently is under revision, now is the ideal time to ensure it is completely consistent with the letter and spirit of the McCain Amendment.
  • Revise Interrogation Policies at Guantanamo to Comply with Amendment: It is HRF’s understanding that “dietary manipulation,” “environmental manipulation,” “sleep management,” “false flag,” and “isolation” continues to be authorized for use [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”170″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””}}]]against detainees there. These techniques may run afoul of the prohibition on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and they should be reevaluated in light of the McCain Amendment.
  • Instruct Relevant Federal Agencies to Make Interrogation Techniques Available for Congressional Oversight: Any proposed new interrogation techniques should be disclosed to members of the relevant Congressional committees as part of a periodic review.
  • Rigorously Train Relevant U.S. Officials: Any U.S. official involved in human intelligence or detention operations should receive rigorous and comprehensive training that imbues them with a full practical understanding of the implications of the ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment – and the consequences of violating it.

Published on January 19, 2006


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