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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 20, 2007
President Bush Signs Executive Order
This afternoon, the President signed an Executive Order that interprets for the United States "Common Article 3" of the Geneva Conventions, as authorized in the Military Commissions Act. The Order interprets the meaning and application of Common Article 3 with respect to certain detentions and interrogations. Specifically, the interpretation of Common Article 3 set forth in this Order is applied to the Central Intelligence Agency's detention and interrogation program whose purpose is to question captured Al Qaeda terrorists who have information on attack plans or the whereabouts of the group's senior leaders.
The Order requires that any CIA interrogation program that might go forward comply with all relevant federal statutes, including the prohibition on "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, the federal prohibition on torture, and the War Crimes Act, all of which protect against violations of Common Article 3. The Order imposes other explicit limitations on interrogation techniques and conditions of confinement in a CIA program. It bars, "acts of violence serious enough to be considered comparable to murder, torture, mutilation, and cruel and inhuman treatment." It also prohibits "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts beyond the bounds of human decency." And the Order forbids acts intended to denigrate detainees' religion, religious practices, or religious objects.
Last September, the President explained how the CIA's program had disrupted attacks and saved lives, and that it must continue on a sound legal footing. The President has insisted on clear legal standards so that CIA officers involved in this essential work are not placed in jeopardy for doing their job - and keeping America safe from attacks. This Order was signed after an extensive interagency process of review and coordination. By providing these clear rules, the Order has clarified vague terms in Common Article 3, and its interpretation is consistent with the decisions of international tribunals applying Common Article 3, including the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
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