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Last Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007, 11:44 GMT
US House limits CIA interrogation
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The CIA is permitted to use "enhanced interrogation techniques"
The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation techniques such as simulated drowning.

The measure would require intelligence agencies to follow the rules adopted by the US Army, which forbid such methods, and to abide by the Geneva Conventions.

President George Bush has threatened to veto the bill if the Senate passes it.

The move came a day after the CIA's director was questioned about the wiping of videotaped interrogations.

Gen Michael Hayden told a congressional intelligence committee that he had no prior knowledge of plans to destroy the tapes and that his organisation "could have done an awful lot better" in keeping Congress informed on the issue.

We have seen the line blurred - possibly deliberately - between legitimate, sanctioned interrogation tactics and torture
Steny Hoyer
House Majority Leader

He said last week that the tapes of the interrogations of two alleged al-Qaeda operatives had been destroyed because they were no longer of intelligence value and to protect the identities of agents.

Correspondents say there are suspicions that the decision was made to conceal evidence that the suspects were being tortured.

Army Field Manual

The intelligence funding bill passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday would restrict the CIA to using only those interrogation techniques explicitly authorised by the 2006 Army Field Manual.

The army interrogation guide explicitly prohibits the use of water-boarding - which simulates drowning, electrocution, sensory deprivation, mock executions, the use of attack dogs, the induction of hypothermia and the withholding of food, water or medical care.

Water boarding: prisoner bound to a board with feet raised, and cellophane wrapped round his head. Water is poured onto his face and is said to produce a fear of drowning
Cold cell: prisoner made to stand naked in a cold, though not freezing, cell and doused with water
Standing: Prisoners stand for 40 hours and more, shackled to the floor
Belly slap: a hard slap to the stomach with an open hand. This is designed to be painful but not to cause injury
Source: Described to ABC News by un-named CIA agents in 2005

The manual also specifies that the Geneva Conventions must be applied to all detainees, thus eliminating separate standards for the questioning of prisoners of war and those considered "unlawful enemy combatants".

The White House threatened to veto the measure earlier this week in a statement which highlighted more than 11 areas of concern with the bill.

The Office of Management and Budget said that limiting the CIA to techniques authorised by the Army Field Manual "would prevent the United States from conducting lawful interrogations of senior al-Qaeda terrorists to obtain intelligence needed to protect Americans from attack".

However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, argued before the vote that the Bush administration had blurred the line "between legitimate, sanctioned interrogation tactics and torture".

"There is no doubt our international reputation has suffered and been stained as a result," he said.

In July 2007, Mr Bush signed a controversial executive order on the treatment of suspects detained by the CIA.

It defined the American commitment to the Geneva Conventions' prohibition on cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment and torture by reference to the US legal code, which says torture is "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering".

But the executive order did not outlaw the agency's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques". The list of allowable techniques has not been published.

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