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...

They are -- in Common Article Three, they are part of Common Article Three, the Geneva Convention. Wouldn't that have been something to help substantially declaim -- new rules -- followed?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: The ICRC is a fundamental part of the third Geneva Convention but it's not a fundamental part of Common Article Three. Common Article Three is a baseline standard that applies for treatment of folks caught up in internal conflicts or other non-international conflicts. Obviously the ICRC is a wonderful institution and does great work and is an important part of conflict and achieving compliance with requirements under humanitarian standards. And the United States works very closely with the ICRC in all aspects of the current armed activities.

But this order and this regime are subject to very extensive internal oversight and also oversight by the intelligence committees in Congress. And we think that that is a thorough and effective set of oversights.

QUESTION: Hi. I was wondering if -- what the procedures are going to be for -- I guess on a classified basis, signing off on whether particular techniques meet these broad standards. Is the Office of Legal Counsel going to again produce a memo that says you can do x, y, z but not a, b and c? As a sort of component of this question, does OLC still take the position it took in 2002 that the Commander-and-Chief has the power to override the statutory limits in the DTA and the NCA?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, as I think you know, the 2002 opinion you refer to has been withdrawn and superseded by a new opinion, and the new opinion made it clear that there is no need to address that issue. And I think this -- in that question -- and it also makes it clear that the office disagrees in fundamental respects with certain of the conclusions reached in that earlier opinion. You'll also note in this executive order, the President is commanding in clear black and white language that all of those statutory provisions be complied with in all respects, no exceptions allowed; these are absolute requirements. And that includes not just the torture statute but the war crimes provisions and also the Detainee Treatment Act standard that was enacted in December 2005 . So I don't think there's any room for doubt here.

And the CIA and the director of the CIA will take the steps necessary to put in place the guidelines and written policies to ensure compliance and will make the determinations about administrative procedures to ensure that compliance and will seek legal guidance as necessary to ensure that any practices where there's any question satisfy each of these -- each of these requirements. And that may include seeking the legal opinion of the Department of Justice.

QUESTION: Hi. Thanks very much. I just want to clarify something. I believe you said previously the program applied to detainees regardless of nationality or where they were held. That was part of the December 2005 document, I believe you said, and now it only applies to what or who?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I'm sorry. I wasn't talking about the program. I was talking about the Detainee Treatment Act and Article 16 of the Convention against torture. Article 16 of the Convention against torture applies to individuals held in the territory of the signatory parties to the Convention. And so there's a question about whether the Article 16 standard would apply to activities conducted outside U.S. territory. There had also been questions raised in 2004 and 2005 about whether the standard in Article 16 of the Convention against torture would apply to aliens who are not U.S. persons.

The Detainee Treatment Act, enacted in December 2005 made it clear by statute that we are to provide the protections of that standard, the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment standard, to all detainees in our custody regardless of where they are held and regardless of their nationality. That's what I was referring to is that statute and not this program and not this executive order.