Junior Bush - Presidency - Foreign Policy - Interrogation Policies

Interrogation Policies

Bush authorized the CIA to use waterboarding as one of several enhanced interrogation techniques. Between 2002 and 2003 the CIA considered certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to be legal based on a secret Justice Department legal opinion arguing that terror detainees were not protected by the Geneva Conventions' ban on torture. The CIA had exercised the technique on certain key terrorist suspects under authority given to it in the Bybee Memo from the Attorney General, though that memo was later withdrawn. While not permitted by the U.S. Army Field Manuals which assert "that harsh interrogation tactics elicit unreliable information", the Bush administration believed these enhanced interrogations "provided critical information" to preserve American lives. Critics, such as former CIA officer Bob Baer, have stated that information was suspect, "you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough."

On October 17, 2006, Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006, a law enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006), which allows the U.S. government to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants by military commission rather than a standard trial. The law also denies them access to habeas corpus and bars the torture of detainees, but allows the president to determine what constitutes torture.

On March 8, 2008, Bush vetoed H.R. 2082, a bill that would have expanded congressional oversight over the intelligence community and banned the use of waterboarding as well as other forms of interrogation not permitted under the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations, saying that "the bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the War on Terror". In April 2009, the ACLU sued and won release of the secret memos that had authorized the Bush administration's interrogation tactics. One memo detailed specific interrogation tactics including a footnote that described waterboarding as torture as well as that the form of waterboarding used by the CIA was far more intense than authorized by the Justice Department.

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