WASHINGTON, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Twenty-seven retired U.S. military leaders are pressing the Senate to reject the White House's attempt to relax interrogation standards for the CIA.
The same group was instrumental in helping to convince Congress last year to pass Sen. John McCain's Detainee Treatment Act, which prohibited torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment for all U.S. detainees.
The Supreme Court earlier this year affirmed that even al-Qaida terrorist prisoners are covered by the most basic Geneva Convention protections outlined in what is known as "Common Article 3."
That treaty prohibits violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; taking of hostages; outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment; and the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court.
It also requires prisoners to have all judicial guarantees universally recognized as indispensable.
The U.S. military affirmed last week that it considers the Geneva Convention its guide in the treatment of all prisoners, but U.S. President George W. Bush has proposed legislation that would downgrade the standards of Common Article 3 to a less stringent test.
"If any agency of the U.S. government is excused from compliance with these standards, or if we seek to redefine what Common Article 3 requires, we should not imagine that our enemies will take notice of the technical distinctions when they hold U.S. prisoners captive. If degradation, humiliation, physical or mental brutalization of prisoners is decriminalized or considered permissible under a restrictive interpretation of Common Article 3 we will forfeit all credible objections should such barbaric practices be inflicted upon American prisoners," states the group's Sept. 12 letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee leadership.
Among the letter's signatories is Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar (ret.), the commander of U.S. Central Command, and former CIA Director Adm. Stansfield Turner.