Detainee Treatment Act

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The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (42USC2000dd) is an act passed by the United States Congress on December 31 2005, specifying explicit standards for the treatment of captives in United States military custody.[1] Contrary to popular reports, it does not contain the words "war on terror" but is a general standard for military confinement. It is not specific to Guantanamo Bay detention camp, but addresses the status of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq as well.

Its major provisions are restrictions on the use of interrogation techniques that could be construed as torture, as well as restricting the appeals available to those prisoners specifically at Guantanamo.

Permitted interrogation techniques

Interrogators who use, in good faith, interrogation techniques outside the scope of the Act shall be able to offer the defense "that such officer, employee, member of the Armed Forces, or other agent did not know that the practices were unlawful and a person of ordinary sense and understanding would not know the practices were unlawful. It specifically states "No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment." The description of prohibited treatement is generally consistent with that of the Convention on Torture, and in the spirit of the Eighth Amendment.

United States Senator John McCain, who was tortured by when he was a prisoner of North Vietnam, is the sponsor most closely identified with the Act. He argued that the interrogation techniques used on American captives should be restricted to those techniques described in the United States Army's interrogation manual, FM2-22.3. See human-source intelligence. Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney argued that these restrictions should only apply to captives in military custody, and that the Central Intelligence Agency should still be allowed to employ "extended interrogation techniques".[2]

Limitation on appeals

It limited the scope of detainees to file petitions with the relevant United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to an appeal brought by or on behalf of an alien who was detained at Guantanamo and for whom a final determination had been made.

Certain prisoners, who had been determined not to be enemy combatants by Combatant Status Review Tribunals, were left with no means of appeal, according to legal writer Jonathon Hafetz.[3] Since the DTA, however, significant court decisions and legislation have affected the criteria for evaluation, so Hafetz's comments may be moot.

Concern on information disclosure

Aspects of the legislation addressed concerns about the disclosure of intelligence information. [4]

References

  1. Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, December 31, 2005, 42 USC 2000dd
  2. R. Jeffrey Smith, Josh White. Cheney Plan Exempts CIA From Bill Barring Abuse of Detainees, Washington Post, October 25 2005, p. A01. Retrieved on 2008-04-10.
  3. Jonathan Hafetz. What the Detainee Treatment Act Really Means for Guantanamo Detainees, The Jurist, April 20, 2006. Retrieved on 2008-04-10.
  4. William Glaberson. Officials Cite Danger in Revealing Detainee Data, 'New York Times', Wednesday, September 12 2007, p. A18. Retrieved on 2007-09-12.