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New Army manual bans specific torture methods

WASHINGTON -- A new Army manual bans torture and degrading treatment of prisoners, for the first time specifically mentioning forced nakedness, hooding, and other procedures that have become infamous during the 5-year-old war on terror.

Delayed more than a year amid criticism of the Defense Department's treatment of prisoners, the new Army Field Manual was released yesterday, revising one from 1992.

It also explicitly bans beating prisoners, sexually humiliating them, threatening them with dogs, depriving them of food or water, performing mock executions, shocking them with electricity, burning them, causing other pain, and ``water boarding," which simulates drowning, said Lieutenant General John Kimmons, Army deputy chief of staff for intelligence .

Officials said the revisions are based on lessons learned since the United States began taking prisoners in the war on terror after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Release of the manual occurred amid a flurry of announcements about the US handling of prisoners, which has drawn criticism from Bush administration critics as well as domestic and international allies. The Pentagon also announced an overall policy statement on prisoner operations.

Human rights groups and some nations have urged the Bush administration to close the prison at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which holds prisoners from the campaign against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Scrutiny of treatment of prisoners shot to a new level in 2004 with the release of photos showing troops beating, intimidating, and sexually abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

Though defense officials debated whether to keep some interrogation procedures a secret from potential enemies, Kimmons said yesterday that there is no secret section.

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