Interrogation of Detainees: Overview of the McCain Amendment
Publication Date: December 2007
Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service
Controversy has arisen regarding U.S. treatment of enemy combatants and terrorist suspects detained in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, and whether such treatment complies with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Congress approved additional guidelines concerning the treatment of detainees via the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which was enacted pursuant to both the Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006 (P.L. 109-148), and the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-163). Among other things, the DTA contains provisions that (1) require Department of Defense (DOD) personnel to employ United States Army Field Manual guidelines while interrogating detainees, and (2) prohibit the "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of persons under the detention, custody, or control of the United States Government." These provisions of the DTA, which were first introduced by Senator John McCain, have popularly been referred to as the "McCain Amendment." This report discusses the McCain Amendment, as modified and subsequently enacted into law.
This report also discusses the application of the McCain Amendment by the DOD in the updated 2006 version of the Army Field Manual, particularly in light of the Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. In addition, the report discusses the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-366), which was signed into law on October 17, 2006. The Act includes provisions that reference or amend the McCain Amendment. For a discussion of the provisions in the DTA that limit judicial review of challenges to U.S. detention policy, see CRS Report RL33180, Guantanamo Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court, by Jennifer K. Elsea and Kenneth Thomas.