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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama issues torture ban, orders CIA 'secret prisons' closed
Bernard Hibbitts at 8:13 PM ET

[JURIST] Discharging key campaign pledges on his third day in office, US President Barack Obama expressly banned US use of torture [JURIST news archive] in interrogations and directed the immediate shutdown of CIA detention facilities in a third executive order [text] on US detention practices issued Thursday. Declaring its overall intent to

improve the effectiveness of human intelligence gathering, to promote the safe, lawful, and humane treatment of individuals in United States custody and of United States personnel who are detained in armed conflicts, to ensure compliance with the treaty obligations of the United States, including the Geneva Conventions, and to take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed...
the instrument expressly revoked Bush Executive Order 13440 limiting the applicability to the CIA of Common Article 3 [texts] of the Geneva Conventions and provided that
Consistent with the requirements of the Federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. 2340 2340A, section 1003 of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, 42 U.S.C. 2000dd, the Convention Against Torture, Common Article 3, and other laws regulating the treatment and interrogation of individuals detained in any armed conflict, such persons shall in all circumstances be treated humanely and shall not be subjected to violence to life and person (including murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment, and torture), nor to outrages upon personal dignity (including humiliating and degrading treatment), whenever such individuals are in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee, or other agent of the United States Government or detained within a facility owned, operated, or controlled by a department or agency of the United States.
The order also prohibited any departure by any US government department or agency from the interrogation methods and standards set out in Army Field Manual 2 22.3 [text, PDF].

Specifically as regards the CIA, the order additionally instructed the agency to "close as expeditiously as possible any detention facilities that it currently operates" and declared that it "shall not operate any such detention facility in the future", bringing to an official end the internationally-notorious system of CIA "secret prisons" that grew up after 9/11 and which played a prominent role in a worldwide pattern of US extraordinary renditions [JURIST news archives] of terror suspects.

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