House Passes Bill Prohibiting Cruel Interrogation Practices, Including Waterboarding

The House of Representatives has passed an intelligence bill that would prohibit the use of cruel techniques of interrogations, including waterboarding, mock executions and other harsh interrogation methods. It is a welcomed move by many, but the concern is that is suggests that waterboarding was not unlawful before its passage. In the meantime, there is little real effort in Congress to deal with the President’s ordering of the crime of torture — and the obvious implications of such impeachable crimes.

As before, the thrust of the bill is largely to force greater reporting on such misconduct to the intelligence committee. Thus, the oversight committees would be told if intelligence agency employees are complying with protections for detainees. This is difficult to embrace as an exciting advance when we just learned that Democrats knew of both torture and unlawful domestic surveillance for years without doing a thing. These committees have always been viewed as paper tigers with little true oversight of civil liberties abuses.

The bill would prohibit forcing detainees to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; placing hoods or sacks over detainees’ heads or duct tape over their eyes; beating, shocking, or burning detainees; threatening them with military dogs; exposing them to extreme heat or cold; conducting mock executions; depriving them of food, water, or medical care; and waterboarding.

The bill reportedly also includes a new internal watchdog to oversee all the intelligence agencies and Senate approval of the heads of the National Reconnaissance Office, which manages the nation’s spy satellites, and the National Security Agency.

Bush is expected to veto the bill.

There is good stuff in this legislation. However, this is a time when we need less legislation than true investigations. These things are already crimes. it is the culprits not the crimes that are unidentified.

3 thoughts on “House Passes Bill Prohibiting Cruel Interrogation Practices, Including Waterboarding”

  1. Until now, the fear Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have for the I-word has been mystifying Why are they so anxious to suppress investigations of Bush and Cheney’s misdeeds, like torture and other war crimes and unconstitutional spying on Americans? Doesn’t ruling out impeachment just condone high crimes?

    The real answer appears to be that Pelosi and the others did not want their own complicity exposed. That is a reasonable conclusion from the Washington Post disclosure (12-9) that in 2002 the CIA secretly described its torture techniques to several congressional leaders, including Pelosi.

    Among the techniques was waterboarding, which the Post article (worked on by five staffers) traced to history’s worst regimes, including Spain of the Inquisition and Nazi Germany. Not a peep of protest came out of Pelosi. At least Jane Harman later objected in a confidential letter.

    “We pledged secrecy” is no legal excuse, as Professor Turley has pointed out: Torture is a felony and one who knowingly conceals a felony is culpable himself. He suggested (on Randi Rhodes’ radio show) that the congressional leaders were clued in to shut them up.

    Pelosi et al. should come clean: Did they also keep under their hats advance knowledge about widespread spying? Likewise, the intelligence report contradicting the false Bush-Cheney claims of an Iranian A-bomb program? Just what secret deals have the Dems made with the devil?

    Finally, a question for fellow San Franciscans: We mindlessly send Pelosi to Washington biennium after biennium: Must we keep electing one who plainly cares more for power than for principle?

  2. Beat me to it Patty C!

    Alternately, how about the House “Retroactive Immunity for Criminal Interrogations Act” or “The Executive Scot-Free Guarantee Act”

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