US military revises custody rules

US Defence Department has issued new guidelines on the treatment of prisoners in US military custody and barred the practice of detaining so-called ghost prisoners.

    Hash interrogation techniques have now been banned

    Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defence intelligence, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday the new guidelines made plain that the military command would set the rules at military-run facilities.

    Replying to questions whether CIA prisoners could still be held without properly registering them as they were at the Abu Ghraib prison, Cambone said the practice would no more be allowed.

    Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, asked: "So that assumes there will be no more so-called ghost prisoners in our military prisons?"

    Cambone replied: "Sir, to the extent that we can assure you that, I am here to do that for you."

    Revised manual

    Cambone said the new guidelines were separate from a new army interrogation manual that a section of the media reported will bar harsh interrogation techniques.

    The media reported that the revised manual would specifically prohibit practices like stripping prisoners, keeping them in stressful positions for a long time, imposing dietary restrictions, using police dogs and using sleep deprivation.

    The new standards apply only to
    Defence Department personnel

    Cambone said he anticipated that the interrogation rules in the new army manual would be used by all the military services.

    The new standards, however, would apply only to Defence Department civilian and military personnel on Defence Department missions, not to the CIA, he said.

    In another development, a former army translator at the camp has said authorities at Guantanamo Bay staged interrogations of detainees for visiting politicians and generals to give the impression that valuable intelligence was regularly being gathered.

    Mock interrogation

    Former Army Sgt Erik Saar told CBS television show 60 Minutes that he believes "only a few  dozen" of the 600 detainees at the camp were terrorists and that little information was obtained from them.

    "Interrogations were set up so the VIPs could come and witness an interrogation ... a mock interrogation, basically," Saar told the programme, to air on Sunday.

    "Interrogations were set up so the VIPs could come and witness an interrogation ... a mock interrogation, basically"

    Former Army Sgt Erik Saar

    "They would find a detainee that they knew to have been cooperative. They would ask the interrogator to go back over the same information," he said, calling it "a fictitious world" created for the visitors.

    Saar worked at Guantanamo from December 2002 to June 2003.

    US Southern Command spokesman Col David McWilliams said the military allows visiting politicians and others who need to understand the process to view interrogations but insisted: "We do not stage interrogations for VIP visits."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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