Following months of advocacy by Human Rights Watch, senior defense officials have said that the Pentagon in a forthcoming Army Field Manual has likely dropped its plans to make interrogation techniques classified information. Last year, we supported Senator John McCain’s successful sponsorship of an amendment to a congressional bill to prohibit the U.S. military and CIA from using “cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment” in the case of any detainee anywhere in the world. The Pentagon’s proposed classified section to the Army Field Manual could have significantly undermined the McCain amendment, creating a separate interrogation regime for so-called “enemy combatants” and reinforcing the message to troops in the field that these prisoners have fewer protections against ill-treatment.
We shared our concerns about the proposed classified annex with key congressional allies, including Senator McCain and Senator Carl Levin, who pressed the Pentagon to retract the anticipated changes. Although the new manual has not yet been released, we expect that it will now include one set of unclassified interrogation techniques for all detainees. Human Rights Watch will continue to advocate for improved transparency in the military’s treatment of prisoners to prevent the use of torture and other abusive measures.