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Pentagon Proposes New Rules On Trying Terror Detainees

Detainees at the U.S. base at Guantamo Bay, Cuba (file photo) (epa) January 19, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The Pentagon has sent the U.S. Congress its proposals for new procedures governing the military trials of detainees in the war on terror.

The Defense Department submitted its proposal in line with a new U.S. law regarding how terrorism suspects should be interrogated and prosecuted.

The proposal, submitted to Congress on January 18, says statements obtained through torture can not be used as evidence against a suspect. But if questionable treatment of detainee has yielded physical evidence -- such as an incriminating document -- that information can be used.

Endorsing Torture?

That exception regarding physical evidence has drawn criticism from some human rights groups.

Jumana Musa, an advocacy director for Amnesty International, told the "Los Angeles Times" on January 18 that "as long as you are willing to use what was obtained by torture, you are endorsing torture."

The new procedures are intended to meet the conditions of the law on trying detainees that was passed by Congress in December in the Military Commissions Act.

"We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," Senator John McCain said at the time. "We have no brief for them, but what we are is a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are."

Congress passed the law clarifying the treatment of terrorism suspects after the Supreme Court required the White House to go to the legislature for authority to use military commissions -- a practice the administration had earlier initiated unilaterally.

The "Los Angeles Times" reported that the U.S. military plans to charge 60 to 80 of the some 395 detainees now at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility under the Pentagon's new procedures.

War On Terror

War On Terror


An archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the global war on terror.