President Bush has yet to provide to congress an executive order interpreting what acceptable interrogation measures are for CIA interrogators, an administration obligation established by the Military Commissions Act of 2006. One senior official tells the Washington Post's Karen DeYoung that "everybody recognizes that we're writing against, far from a blank slate, a very dirty slate. The administration would like to try to get it right."
A key figure in defining the new rules of the interrogation road will be the CIA's general counsel. And this afternoon, John Rizzo, a 30-year CIA veteran, goes before a skeptical Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for the job. In addition to learning where he stands on what constitutes lawful interrogation behavior for the CIA -- which, under the Military Commissions Act, is not subject to the Geneva Conventions-compliant Army field manual on interrogations -- the panel wants to know where Rizzo stood during the first iteration of the interrogations debate. Rizzo has been a mainstay of the CIA general counsel's office all through the post-9/11 period, often acting as interim general counsel, and he participated in post-9/11 administration debates over interrogation, renditions of al-Qaeda-linked detainees to countries that torture, and the establishment of secret CIA detention facilities overseas. It's likely to be a tough hearing: former CIA executive director A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard tells Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times that Rizzo will be a "piÃ±ata."
Complicating matters further: the committee wants the Bush administration to turn over its definition of "humiliating" and "degrading" treatment under Geneva's Common Article 3, most likely to ensure that the administration doesn't again attempt to define torture down. Reports DeYoung:
The administration is believed to have already obtained the review but is unlikely to turn it over to Congress, the administration official said. Lawmakers will be asked to accept Bush's assurance in the executive order that the program has been deemed lawful.
The CIA is still waiting on Bush's executive order blessing its new interrogation regime. Today's hearing may provide a glimpse as to what's in store for future detainees in CIA custody.