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Interrogating Terror Suspects A Debate — Did the Administration’s Decision that the Geneva Convention Do Not Apply to Captured Terror Suspects Lead to Prisoner Abuse?

Monday March 2005

Panelists: John D. Hutson, Dean, Franklin Pierce Law Center (Concord, NH) & Former Judge Advocate General, U.S. Navy; Heather Mac Donald, John M. Olin Fellow, Manhattan Institute & Contributing Editor, City Journal
Moderator: Brian Lehrer, Host, Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC-AM

After 9/11, the Bush administration declared that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to foreign terrorist suspects captured abroad. Administration critics charge that that decision led directly to widespread prisoner abuse and torture—at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, as well as in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan. Any deviation from the traditional rules for interrogating and detaining prisoners of war, the critics argue, makes detainee abuse inevitable. This debate will examine whether the traditional legal framework for war should apply to the war on Islamic terror and what the interrogation methods for terror suspects should be. Are such stress interrogation techniques as sleep deprivation torture, or lawful measures to counter resistance strategies? Why did the Abu Ghraib abuse occur?

The legal and moral questions raised by the war on Islamic terror have yet to be definitively answered. This debate is a start.