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Pentagon Adopts New Detainee Interrogation Policy

08 November 2005

Policy prohibits physical or mental torture

By Merle D. Kellerhals Jr.
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The U.S. Defense Department has issued a new policy that governs how the armed forces conduct interrogations of detainees and enemy combatants to prohibit inhumane treatment and torture.

"All captured or detained personnel shall be treated humanely," the newly released Pentagon directive says, "and all intelligence interrogations, debriefings, or tactical questioning to gain intelligence from captured or detained personnel shall be conducted humanely."

Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed the directive November 3.  It is the first such formal Pentagon directive on this policy.  The directive is based on the law of war, relevant international law, U.S. law and other Defense directives.

"Acts of physical or mental torture are prohibited," the directive says.

The directive applies to Defense Department personnel -- military and civilian -- conducting intelligence interrogations, debriefings and questioning, as well as to defense contractors and nondefense civilians permitted access to conduct interrogations of those held by the armed forces.  It does not apply to interrogations by U.S. government agencies not under Pentagon control.

The new policy specifically forbids the use of military working dogs, contracted dogs or any other dog in use by a federal agency as part of the interrogation process to either harass, intimidate, threaten or coerce a detainee for interrogation purposes.

The U.S. Army is the executive agent for developing doctrine, which military and civilian personnel use in the Defense Department.  The revised Army Field Manual 2-22.3, "Human Intelligence Collector Operations," will be in compliance with the new directive, the Pentagon said.

In addition to defining what policies and practices are acceptable, the directive also sets out requirements for reporting violations of the policy, and stresses that interrogations will be conducted in accordance with applicable law and policy.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the directive consolidates and codifies many procedures that have been put in place as a result of a dozen military investigations into detainee abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base, according to published news reports.

"This directive provides the overarching Department of Defense policy that mandates humane treatment of detainees," he said.

Responsibility for interrogation activities are assigned to senior Pentagon civilians and commanders, and the policy requires that Central Intelligence Agency interrogators follow Pentagon guidelines when questioning military detainees.

Any techniques field commanders may want to use must be forwarded to Washington for review and approval by the highest authority.  And, all interrogators must be trained and certified as prepared to do the job properly, the directive says.

The U.S. Congress is currently considering an amendment proposed by Senator John McCain that would prohibit inhumane treatment and torture in detainee interrogations by any U.S. government agency or department and the armed forces.  The amendment, which was approved in the Senate by a vote of 90-9, was added to the 2006 Defense authorization and appropriations bills, which are being debated in a congressional conference committee.

The text (PDF, 11 pages) of Directive 3115.09, "DoD Intelligence Interrogations, Detainee Debriefings, and Tactical Questioning," is available on the Pentagon Web site.

For additional information, see Detainee Issues.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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