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President Obama has signed an executive order creating a new group to oversee the interrogation of high value detainees. The High-value Detainee Interrogation Group will be housed within the FBI and will be overseen by the National Security Administration.
Back in January, President Obama signed an important executive order. Most importantly, it mandated that the interrogation of all detainees held by the US Government must follow the U.S. Army Field Manual. This is important because the Army Field Manual forbids torture. Actually, it specifies accepted methods of interrogation, along with specifically disallowing forbidden methods (including water-boarding).
In that executive order, Obama also created the Special Task Force on Interrogations and Transfer Policies to evaluate US policies on interrogating and transferring detainees. Specifically, it's mission was to analyze whether use of the U.S. Army Field Manual by departments and agencies outside the Army would adequately protect US security, and evaluate US practices on transferring detainees to ensure that those policies don't violate US law or international obligations by handing detainees over to countries where they will face torture
For interrogations in general, the task force concluded that the Army Field Manual is good enough. Going forward, it is to be used as the guide to how interrogations are conducted by other military and intelligence agencies and departments (this will include the C.I.A.).
As explained by a Department of Justice press release, for interrogations of high value detainees, the task force recommende that a High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) be created. This group will be combine expertise from the intelligence community (i.e., C.I.A.), the Department of Defense (i.e., the military), and law enforcement (i.e., the FBI, Department of Justice, etc.). It will coordinate, in advance, teams of experienced interrogators, analysts, subject matter experts and linguists to be deployed when the US has an opportunity to interrogate high value detainees. The goal of these interrogations will be prevention of future attacks. However, improved procedures and the involvement of law enforcement in the HIG are supposed to allow such interrogations to better aid criminal prosecutions as well.
ABC News confirms that President Obama signed an executive order implementing the task force's recommendations.
The task force also studied U.S. rendition practices, by which detainees have been rendered to foreign countries where they face torture. In short, renditions will continue, but with requests for monitoring the treatment of detainees by countries whose assurance against torture the US accepts. A blog post devoted to the rendition aspect to these recent developments will follow.