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...


QUESTION: Hi. Real quick, I guess it's related to Olivier's question but is it accurate to say that this is something new that is -- in terms of the interrogation techniques or the CIA program or is this just more specific, laying out what the CIA program already essentially entails? What is the best way to describe this? Is there anything new that's being outlined here or is this just something that's being made public?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: It is absolutely new. It was a new development that the Supreme Court said Common Article Three applies, and this is the culmination of a process of trying to decide how it will apply and what it will mean for it to apply, precisely what the agency will need to do to ensure that it is in compliance. And that is all new. And so therefore this is a set of new standards, and I think it's very significant for the President in executive order to be ordering and directing that each of these requirements needs to be met including the general prohibitions that are set forth in here in this executive order. So to that extent I think it is a new development and a significant one.

I will say though that this is a program which I think has been described in the past, is one that has always been operated with careful oversight, with a lot of guidelines, a lot of training for interrogators and a lot of professionalism, and also a lot of selectivity in terms of who the detainees are that the agency has interest in.

So in that sense the carefulness of the program is changing, but these particular requirements and this new legal framework is new and in that sense very significant.

QUESTION: But just to clarify, beforehand, I mean obviously none of this was for public view or discussion but were those who were being interrogated before, were they already being treated by these standards, the ones that have been outlined today?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, I guess I'm really not in a position to talk about actual practices in the program. I will say this is an effort to bring clarity to legal standards that we didn't know applied before the Supreme Court said they applied. So to that extent, I think that addresses that question.

QUESTION: Hello. My question, two of them -- first of all, who is going to believe this to make sure that the CIA is actually doing what the President's new rules call for?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, the President expects that everybody who acts pursuant to an executive order like this will follow the requirements of the executive order. He has made it clear that the director of the Central Intelligence Agency must have written policies in place to ensure compliance, and that will include most definitely disciplinary action, removal, dismissal if anyone violates standards that are noncriminal or administrative here and certainly the potential for criminal prosecution for violations of any of the criminal provisions that are set forth here.

As well, the President has directed that the director of national intelligence, Admiral McConnell will ensure that adequate procedure is in place to achieve compliance with the Detainee Treatment Act standards. So this is a legal document. It is an authoritative document, and it does have the force of law in the sense that it will be administratively enforced. And to the extent criminal acts occur as specified in the order they would be subject to the potential for prosecution.

QUESTION: Also with this question if you were to have had the ICRC included in the new rules that would be somewhat of a backup to make sure that everything was followed, correct?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, the ICRC has a particular function under the Geneva Convention, and I'm not in a position to comment on the interactions with the ICRC, but I will say that ICRC access is not required under Common Article Three. And the kind of ICRC access that is given to traditional POWs under the Geneva Convention is not the kind of access that's consistent with the intelligence objectives of a program like this.

QUESTION: If other countries are so concerned about our treatment of prisoners of war or enemy combatants wouldn't the ICRC be a party that could help quell any kind of concern that they would have?