Amid charges by human rights groups of intentionally vague wording, President Bush issued an Executive Order prohibiting torture by U.S. Government officials.
Human rights advocates pointed to the omission of Sleep Deprivation from the list of forbidden techniques, as evidence of the Bush Administration's evasiveness on an issue that has driven a wedge between the United States and many Western European allies in the War on Terror.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, however, claimed that Sleep Deprivation had been removed from the list of techniques classified as torture, at the insistence of a Congressional Advisory Group, led by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid. According to Snow, the original language of the Executive Order classified Sleep Deprivation as a form of torture, but Reid, on the advice of his lawyers, asked the President to strike that portion from the Order, for fear of lawsuits from his fellow U.S. Senators.
Reid's office did not return phone calls requesting a clarification.