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Bush: 'I Have Never Ordered Torture'

The White House on Tuesday released newly declassified documents concerning interrogation techniques on prisoners captured in the war against terror and held at the US Naval base military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. 

The newly declassified papers, which outlined the techniques used on some 600 al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guantanamo, were released to demonstrate that Bush administration had insisted that detainees at Guantanamo be treated humanely.


The papers showed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved harsh interrogation methods in December 2002 for Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo, rescinded many of them in January 2003 and approved less aggressive techniques in April 2003.


A memo dated February 7, 2002, and signed by President George W. Bush said the Geneva Conventions do not apply to captured Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan but stipulated that they must be treated humanely.


Treatment of the Guantanamo detainees, including interrogation methods, has come under scrutiny following a scandal involving US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, and the Bush administration has been under pressure to make the memos public.


"Let me make very clear the position of my government and our country. We do not condone torture. I have never ordered torture. I will never order torture," Bush told reporters before the release.


But Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont accused the White House of releasing a "self-serving selection" of documents. "The stonewalling in the prison abuse scandal has been building to a crisis point," he said.  


(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2004)

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