NEW YORK -- Sept. 8, 2006 -- Many of the harsh interrogation techniques just repudiated by the Pentagon would be made lawful by legislation put forward the same day by the Bush administration, and the U.S. courts would be forbidden from intervening.
The proposal is in the last 10 pages of an 86-page bill devoted mostly to military commissions, and it is a tangled mix of cross-references and pregnant omissions.
But legal experts say it adds up to an apparently unique interpretation of the Geneva conventions, one that could allow CIA operatives and others to use many of the very techniques disavowed Wednesday by the Pentagon, including stress positions, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures and perhaps even simulated drowning.
"It's a Jekyll-and-Hyde routine," Martin Lederman, who teaches constitutional law at Georgetown. In effect, the administration is proposing to write into law a two-track system that has existed as a practical matter for some time.
So-called high-value detainees held by the CIA have been subjected to very tough interrogation in secret prisons around the world. More run-of-the-mill prisoners held by the Defense Department have, for the most part, faced milder questioning, although human rights groups say there have been widespread abuses.