In the next few days President Bush is expected to again claim the right to order mistreatment of prisoners that any civilized person would regard as torture.

Bush is planning to veto a law that would require the CIA and all the intelligence services to abide by the restrictions on holding and interrogating prisoners contained in the US Army Field Manual. Bush says the Army rules are too restrictive.

Such practices have long been prohibited by American laws and international treaties respected by Republican and Democratic presidents. We urge Bush to read the Army Field Manual, which says: “Use of torture by US personnel would bring discredit upon the

US armed forces while undermining domestic and international support for the war effort.

Bush could check the testimony of Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples, head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, who told Congress last week that waterboarding violated the Geneva Conventions. Or he could read the letter that Gen. David Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, wrote to his troops: “Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy”. “They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary.”