Transcript of Conference Call With Senior Administration Officials on the Executive Order Interpreting Common Article Three

WASHINGTON, July 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being issued by the U.S. Department of Justice: WASHINGTON, DC 2:55 P.M. EDT MR. ROEHRKASSE: Thank you very much. Thank you for joining us...


It assigns to the director of national intelligence the function of the President under Section 63 of the Military Commissions Act to ensure compliance with the detainee treatment act. So that's the outline of the order. This order in the President's estimation will do what he said what top priority in our approach to the Military Commissions Act, which is to make it certain and clear and lawful for the Central Intelligence Agency to go forward with its very important program of detention and interrogation.

So with that we'd be happy to answer any questions you may have.

QUESTION: Hi, I was wondering whether you can say whether waterboarding would be prohibited under this criteria or not?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I'm not in a position to talk about any specific interrogation practices, and I think the President has made it clear from the beginning of the debate here that it's really impossible for us consistent with the objectives of such a program to publicize to the enemy what practices may be on the table, what practices may be off the table, and that that will only allow al Qaeda to train against those that they know are on or off.

What I will say however, and this goes for anything under this order as I think the order makes abundantly clear, anything that would be done in the program would have to satisfy all of the requirements that I just enumerated and would have to comply with all of those statutes. If any particular practice like the one you described would not meet any of those standards it would not be allowed in the program.

QUESTION: Yes, I have really two. One is did any specific interrogation or detention practices change either in immediate anticipation of the order or will any change now as a result of it? And the order refers to the CIA detention and interrogation program in the present tense. Could you say how many detainees this is going to apply to today?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I really can't answer those questions. Again, I don't think we want to signal what changes if any may have happened to the program because that would involve talking about what the capabilities and content of the program may have been or what it may be in the future. I will say that this has taken a while, as you know, to come out. It has been the subject of extensive internal discussion and interagency consultation within the executive branch. And all aspects of it and all aspects of the matters it addresses have been subject of those. And so it has been very thoroughly vetted and considered.

QUESTION: And you -- what I really asked was did any change, not how did they change or what specifically changed. You're not in a position to even say that broadly speaking interrogation or retention practices changed as a result of this order?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think I'm probably not in a position to talk about that. Others may be, but I think I'm probably best in position to talk about the order itself and the legal framework that it addresses.

QUESTION: Hi. I have a couple quick questions. One is in the provision that talks about how the detainees ought to receive the basic necessities of life, there's food and water, shelter from elements, and so forth, is there a reason that sleep is not included in that category? Can you say, regarding protection from extremes of heat and cold how someone would define what constitutes an extreme?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think these are standards and terms that are traditionally used in the Geneva conventions and consistently applied. And each of them would -- the term like extremes of heat and cold I think would be given a reasonable interpretation based on circumstances. But I think it's intended to be clear that we're not talking about forcibly induced hypothermia or any use of extreme temperatures as a practice in a program like this. And so I think that is intended to be clear.

And as to sleep, that's not something that is traditionally enumerated in the Geneva Convention provisions. And beyond that I'm not in a position to comment about particular --

QUESTION: Could you also just though briefly talk about how and which offices were involved in the production of this document? Was this something that was mainly done by the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department ? Was this done in conjunction with the input from the CIA, General Counsel's office?