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November 18, 2008

Abuse has no place in interrogation policy

Opinion piece by Steven Kleinman and Haviland Smith in the Neiman Watchdog

Fifteen former interrogators and senior intelligence officials with more than 350 years collective field experience in the military, the FBI and the CIA, spanning the period from World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq, gathered last month for a two-day conference in Washington D.C. organized by Human Rights First. When it was done, we agreed on the following set of principles related to on torture and interrogation:

1. Non-coercive, traditional, rapport-based interviewing approaches provide the best possibility for obtaining accurate and complete intelligence.

2. Torture and other inhumane and abusive interview techniques are unlawful, ineffective and counterproductive. We reject them unconditionally.

3. The use of torture and other inhumane and abusive treatment results in false and misleading information, loss of critical intelligence, and has caused serious damage to the reputation and standing of the United States. The use of such techniques also facilitates enemy recruitment, misdirects or wastes scarce resources, and deprives the United States of the standing to demand humane treatment of captured Americans.

4. There must be a single well-defined standard of conduct across all U.S. agencies to govern the detention and interrogation of people anywhere in U.S. custody, consistent with our values as a nation.

5. There is no conflict between adhering to our nation’s essential values, including respect for inherent human dignity, and our ability to obtain the information we need to protect the nation.

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