Today, United States senators Kelly Ayotte, Saxby Chambliss, Lindsey Graham, and John Cornyn are promoting the approval of a new regime of extreme interrogation of prisoners, in excess of the approved techniques in the Army Field Manual. S. Amdt. 1068 to the 2012 Defense Authorization Act, sponsored by these four senators, would not just allow the creation of a set of interrogation techniques kept secret from the American people. It would require the creation of this secrecy.
The amendment would force the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Attorney General of the United States to begin “the adoption of a classified annex to Army Field Manual 2-22.3 that sets forth interrogation techniques and approaches, in addition to those specified in Army Field Manual 2-22.3, that may be used for the effective collection of foreign intelligence information.”
Why develop a system of secret interrogation methods? The creation of secrecy about what kinds of interrogation techniques will create massive confusion among America’s soldiers and spies. When they’re ordered to engage in extreme interrogation techniques that seem like torture, they will no longer have the grounds to refuse the orders, because they simply won’t know what techniques are legal, and what techniques are illegal.
The cloud of secrecy established by Senate Amendment 1068 would encourage the use of torture by the American government, and for no good reason. There is no evidence that the interrogation techniques approved of in the Army Field Manual have been inadequate, leading to missed foreign intelligence. The record is clear, however, that secret interrogations conducted in excess of the methods found in the Army Field Manual have resulted in profound damage to American foreign policy in general, and to American foreign intelligence operations in particular.
The legislative amendment Senators Ayotte, Chambliss, Graham and Cornyn are promoting would not help foreign intelligence efforts. It would damage them. It also would increase distrust of the American government, both overseas an here at home.
We don’t need more government secrecy. We need less of it. Senate Amendment 1068, if passed, will take the United States of America in the wrong direction… and so we’ll be paying special attention to those senators who go along with its dangerous scheme.