The Department of Defense, having concluded that its interests would be best served by public disclosure, released a new directive (pdf) on policy towards enemy detainees and a new Army Field Manual (pdf) on detainee interrogation.
The new detainee policy explicitly bars “cruel, inhumane and degrading” treatment of detainees who are in Defense Department custody and defines a minimum standard of humane care. The new Field Manual identifies 19 interrogation techniques that may be used, three of which are new, and prohibits others.
Army Gen. John Kimmons said that the Pentagon weighed the costs and benefits of classifying portions of the new policy documents, and decided in favor of full public disclosure.
“We initially considered taking the additional techniques I described, the three new ones, and putting them into a classified appendix of some sort to keep them out of the hands of the enemy, who regularly reads our field manuals as a matter of course,” he said at a September 6 Pentagon press briefing.
“We weighed that against the needs for transparency and working openly with our coalition partners who don’t have access to all of our classified publications….”
“We also felt that even classified techniques, once you use them on the battlefield over time, become increasingly known to your enemies, some of whom are going to be released in due course. And so on balance, in consultation with our combatant commanders, we decided to go this [unclassified] route. We’re very comfortable with it; so are our combatant commanders,” Gen. Kimmons said.
The new Army Field Manual is still marked “For Official Use Only” (FOUO). But “in the interest of full transparency” the Army released it anyway.
“The ‘FOUO’ markings are no longer operative,” an Army spokesman said.
See “Human Intelligence Collector Operations,” Field Manual FM 2-22.3, September 2006 (11 MB PDF file).
See also “Department of Defense Detainee Program,” DoD Directive 2310.01E, September 5, 2006.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence likewise found it advantageous and appropriate to disclose significant new information about 14 “high value detainees” that were formally transferred from the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency to the Department of Defense.
See “Summary of the High Value Terrorist Detainee Program” (pdf), ODNI, September 6.
See also ODNI “biographies” of the 14 detainees.
The occasional triumphs and frequent defects of media coverage of the detention and treatment of enemy combatants were reviewed at length by Eric Umansky in “Failures of Imagination,” Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 2006.
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