Because it all depends on what the meaning of "torture" is. And we're trying to be very careful about that.
The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods that may complicate negotiations over legislation proposed by Senator John McCain to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody, defense officials said Tuesday.
The techniques are included in a 10-page classified addendum to a new Army field manual that was forwarded this week to Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy, for final approval, they said.
The addendum provides dozens of interrogation examples and goes into exacting detail on what procedures may or may not be used, and in what circumstances. Army interrogators have never had a set of such specific guidelines that would help teach them how to walk right up to the line between legal and illegal interrogations.
The defense officials said the new guidelines could give the impression that the Army was pushing the limits on legal interrogation at the very moment when Mr. McCain, Republican of Arizona, is involved in intense three-way negotiations with the House and the Bush administration to prohibit the cruel treatment of prisoners.
In a high-level meeting at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Army and other Pentagon officials raised serious concerns that Mr. McCain would be furious at what could appear to be a back-door effort to circumvent his intentions.
"This is a stick in McCain's eye," one defense official said. "It goes right up to the edge. He's not going to be comfortable with this."
Army officials said the manual required interrogators to comply with the Geneva Conventions, which give broad protections to prisoners of war against coercion, threats or harsh treatment of any kind.
But they declined to give examples of specific interrogation techniques that the addendum authorizes, or the conditions for their use, saying they wanted to prevent captives from learning how to thwart them.
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