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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Congress Reiterates Waterboarding Ban

The Senate voted yesterday to reaffirm the illegality of waterboarding, closing a loophole that had been seized upon by the Bush administration to defend its use of coercive “enhanced interrogation techniques,” many of which are widely regarded as torture by the international community. In passing the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008 last night, the Senate approved language, agreed to overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives last year, which forbids the CIA from using interrogation techniques not authorized by the Army Field Manual. Congress had passed a similar provision as part of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, but the Bush administration later contended that the restriction applied only to military officers—not the CIA. The bill approved yesterday outlaws waterboarding and many other controversial techniques (like sensory deprivation and stress positions) not authorized for use by the U.S. military. The Senate’s rebuke of coercive interrogations comes on the eve of an Oversight Hearing on the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). Steven Bradbury, the acting head of the OLC and author of controversial secret OLC opinions authorizing waterboarding, will testify this morning in front of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. Click here to watch Mr. Bradbury’s live testimony.

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