A shift back to law enforcement? No – HIG

By Jason Ralph

Meanwhile the Washington Post reports Obama’s solution to the interrogation question: create a new agency within the already complex national security infrastructure.  Interrogation of HVDs is being taken from the CIA and given over “to the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, or HIG. Made up of experts from several intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the interrogation unit will be housed at the FBI but will be overseen by the National Security Council”.

The FBI point suggests a shift back to a law-enforcement mentality and the FBI is reported to have turned its back on the CIA enhanced interrogation programme during the Bush administration, so this will be welcomed by human rights groups.

However, the report later notes that the administration is not totally shifting the paradigm back to law-enforcement.  It states: “Interrogators will not necessarily read detainees their rights before questioning, instead making that decision on a case-by-case basis, officials said. That could affect whether some material can be used in a U.S. court of law. The main purpose of the new unit, however, is to glean intelligence, especially about potential terrorist attacks, the officials said.  “It is not going to, certainly, be automatic in any regard that they are going to be Mirandized,” one official said, referring to the practice of reading defendants their rights. “Nor will it be automatic that they are not Mirandized.”

So are we still at war? Kind of.

I guess the most significant point however is that new guidelines insists that interrogators “must stay within the parameters of the Army Field Manual when questioning suspects. The task force concluded — unanimously, officials said — that “the Army Field Manual provides appropriate guidance on interrogation for military interrogators and that no additional or different guidance was necessary for other agencies,” according to a three-page summary of the findings.

Given the Bush administration vetoed Congressional attempts to include the CIA in this kind of regime this is a clear reversal of policy.

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About Jason Ralph

Jason Ralph, Professor of International Relations, University of Leeds
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