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DoD May Issue New Instructions to Military Commissions

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2006 – The Defense Department is considering issuing new instructions to military commissions that specifically prohibit the admission of evidence that's been obtained by torture, a senior DoD official told reporters here today.

"This has been one area where there has been some concern raised, and so the department is taking a look at it and may issue a separate instruction on it," DoD spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters.

President Bush has been clear that the United States does not condone torture, Whitman said.

"The Department of Defense, of course, abides by that admonition," Whitman said, "and had believed that a specific commission rule was unnecessary and would erroneously suggest that torture had actually occurred."

Military commission prosecutors involved in detainee trials have said they'd not introduce evidence that was obtained by torture. Ten detainee-related cases have been referred for trial by military commissions.

And, "should prosecutors find credible evidence of torture in their development of future commission cases, the prosecution has stated that such evidence would not be offered at trial," Whitman said.

The subject DoD instructions haven't been issued, Whitman pointed out. He said discussions on the topic are ongoing within the Pentagon. A recent Wall Street Journal article that reported the instructions had been approved isn't correct, Whitman said, due to inaccurate information DoD had mistakenly provided at the time.

Whitman referred reporters to the department's military commission Web site, where DoD has issued previous instructions to military commissions since they were authorized under presidential authority after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

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