Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (search) on Thursday spoke out for clearer and more high-minded rules governing the detention and interrogation of prisoners in the war on terrorism.
Addressing cadets at West Point, O'Connor said incidents from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have shown confusion among soldiers and the need for guidance.
While the Supreme Court (search) has ruled that prisoners should have a meaningful opportunity to challenge indefinite detention, O'Connor said the court should not and cannot give broad answers to policy questions.
The president and Congress have done little to date to clarify the situation, she said.
However, she cited fundamental national values that the rules should reflect, citing "belief in protecting the basic humanity of all people, including our adversaries. We will not stoop to the atrocities of some of our adversaries."
O'Connor, 75, became the first woman on the court when she was appointed by President Reagan in 1981. She announced her retirement this year but is serving until her successor is confirmed. White House counsel Harriet Miers (search) has been nominated.
O'Connor addressed 4,000 cadets Thursday night after receiving the Thayer Award, named for Col. Sylvanus Thayer, known as the father of the military academy.
The award is presented by West Point's Association of Graduates to an outstanding citizen whose service and accomplishments in the national interest exemplify the academy's motto of "Duty, Honor, Country."