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.