The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to bar CIA agents from using waterboarding during the questioning of suspected terrorists, drawing a veto threat from President George W. Bush.
The House, in a 222-199 vote, passed annual policy legislation for intelligence agencies that included the ban on the use of simulated drowning in interrogations.
“This would mean no more torture and no more questions about what the CIA is allowed to do behind closed doors,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat.
Here comes the big fat ‘yeah, but’:
To become law, the legislation approved today would have to be approved by the Senate, which hasn’t scheduled a vote, and be signed by Bush, who has stated his opposition.
The legislation “would prevent the United States from conducting lawful interrogations of senior al-Qaeda terrorists to obtain intelligence,” the Bush administration said in a statement Dec. 11. “Such interrogations have helped the United States disrupt multiple attacks against Americans.”
“Lawful interrogations.” To paraphrase Señor Montoya, “I do not think that phrase means what you think it means.” Talk about a political Rorschach test.
In 1901 women were prohibited from voting. We were less than 50 years away from legalized slavery, and most African-Americans were denied the full rights of citizenship. Children were working in mines, we were on the cusp of becoming an imperial occupier of the Philippines, and “polite society” accepted most of the tenets of eugenics. But even then, our interrogation techniques had evolved beyond the practices of the Spanish Inquisition, and we punished torturers, even if they were our torturers.
Related: Has US public opinion on “tough interrogation methods” really started to 180? One would hope…