Friday, January 23, 2009
President Obama issued an Executive Order yesterday banning torture and providing for treatment of individuals in U.S. custody consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the Federal Torture Statute, and the Convention Against Torture.
The EO revoked Bush's 2007 EO 13440 (tightening restrictions on interrogation techniques, but leaving some wiggle room) and "[a]ll executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the [CIA] from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals . . . ." It also effectively revokes Office of Legal Counsel opinions authorizing abusive interrogation techniques: It prohibits the Attorney General from relying upon "any interpretation" "issued by the Department of Justice between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009," in interpreting any interrogation law--"including interpretations of Federal criminal laws, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, Army Field Manual 2 22.3, and its predecessor document . . . ."
In stark contrast to the legal analysis in the Bush administration OLC opinions authorizing abusive interrogation techniques under the President's Article II powers and the AUMF, the Obama EO simply states this:
Common Article 3 Standards as a Minimum Baseline. Consistent with the requirements of the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A, section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, and other laws regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.