CIA report questioned legality of interrogation methods, sources say

[JURIST] A classified Central Intelligence Agency [official website] report issued in 2004 questioned whether certain interrogation tactics approved by the agency for use against terrorism suspects would violate the UN Convention Against Torture [text], current and former intelligence officials have reported. The previously undisclosed report by CIA Inspector General John Helgerson [official profile] warned that procedures approved in 2002, while not constituting torture [JURIST news archive] under the UN Convention, could fall afoul of a lesser restriction that bars "cruel, inhuman or degrading" actions. Anonymous officials who spoke about the report said that it cited specific techniques used by the CIA against certain suspects, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC News profile], the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Mohammed has reportedly been subjected to waterboarding, a procedure in which a person is strapped to a board and made to feel as though he is drowning, since being captured in March 2003. The CIA has not publicly acknowledged the report, and it has maintained [CIA news release] that its approved interrogation techniques were lawful. President Bush said Monday that the US has not tortured [JURIST report] suspected terrorists. The US Senate has approved a proposed ban on torture and other inhuman treatment of prisoners [JURIST document] but the White House has threatened to veto the legislation [JURIST report; White House policy statement, PDF]. Vice President Cheney has also urged Senators to include an exemption for CIA officers [JURIST report], arguing that CIA agents should be allowed to employ "cruel, inhuman or degrading" interrogation tactics if the president decides such procedures are necessary to prevent an imminent terrorist attack. Wednesday's New York Times has more.

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