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America's most senior general was "hoodwinked" by top Bush administration officials determined to push through aggressive interrogation techniques of terror suspects held at Guantánamo Bay, leading to the US military abandoning its age-old ban on the cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, the Guardian reveals today.
General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff from 2001 to 2005, wrongly believed that inmates at Guantánamo and other prisons were protected by the Geneva conventions and from abuse tantamount to torture.
The way he was duped by senior officials in Washington, who believed the Geneva conventions and other traditional safeguards were out of date, is disclosed in a devastating account of their role, extracts of which appear in today's Guardian.
In his new book, Torture Team, Philippe Sands QC, professor of law at University College London, reveals that:
· Senior Bush administration figures pushed through previously outlawed measures with the aid of inexperienced military officials at Guantánamo.
· Myers believes he was a victim of "intrigue" by top lawyers at the department of justice, the office of vice-president Dick Cheney, and at Donald Rumsfeld's defence department.
· The Guantánamo lawyers charged with devising interrogation techniques were inspired by the exploits of Jack Bauer in the American TV series 24.
· Myers wrongly believed interrogation techniques had been taken from the army's field manual.
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"The secretary did this by cutting [Myers] out of important communications, meetings, deliberations and plans.
"At the end of the day, however, Dick Myers was not a very powerful chairman in the first place, one reason Rumsfeld recommended him for the job".
He added: "Haynes, Feith, Yoo, Bybee, Gonzalez and - at the apex - Addington, should never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel. They broke the law; they violated their professional ethical code. In future, some government may build the case necessary to prosecute them in a foreign court, or in an international court."More on this story