Washington : U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday ordered the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to comply with the Geneva Convention's ban on torture.
An executive order signed by Bush clarified his position that a secret CIA detention program must be in accordance with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on wartime detainees, which bans torture and other cruel, inhumane treatments of prisoners.
"I hereby determine that Common Article 3 shall apply to a program of detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency as set forth in this section," the president declared in the order.
CIA Director Michael Hayden said Bush's order sets specific requirements for the detention and interrogation of detainees, which will give CIA interrogators new legal protections against claims of wrongdoing.
"Last September, the president explained how the CIA's program had disrupted attacks and saved lives, and that it must continue on a sound legal footing," White House spokesman Tony Snow commented on the order.
"The president has insisted on clear legal standards so that CIA officers involved in this essential work are not placed in jeopardy for doing their job — and keeping America safe from attacks," he said.
The new order came nearly a year after the Bush administration suspended its secret prison system and transferred inmates to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following a Supreme Court ruling that placed the program in doubt.
The Bush administration has been under international scrutiny over its treatment of terror suspects, including harsh interrogation techniques and secret imprisonment.
Even under the latest executive order, it is still not clear whether some of the most controversial interrogation practices, including the so-called "waterboarding" which makes a prisoner feel he or she is going to be drowned, will continue.
Moreover, according to the Military Commission Act signed by Bush last October, the president can "interpret the meaning and application" of international rules on prisoner treatment, a provision aimed to allow him to authorize aggressive interrogation methods that might otherwise be seen as illegal by international courts.