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US Senate votes to outlaw CIA waterboarding

Latest update : 2008-02-15

The US Senate has voted in favour of legislation to bar the CIA from using harsh interrogation methods including waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique denounced by rights groups as torture.

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The Democratic-led Congress
defied a White House veto threat on Wednesday and voted to ban
the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation

On a largely party-line vote of 51-45, the Senate passed a
broad intelligence measure earlier approved by the House of
Representatives and sent it to President George W. Bush to sign
into law.

But White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, "For a number
of reasons, the president's advisers would recommend a veto of
this bill. Parts of this bill are inconsistent with the
effective conduct of intelligence gathering."

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the leading Republican
presidential candidate and an author of previous anti-torture
legislation, voted against the overall bill.

The action follows CIA Director Michael Hayden's disclosure
to Congress last week that government interrogators had used
waterboarding on three suspects captured after the Sept. 11
attacks. The simulated drowning technique has been widely
condemned by human rights groups and other countries as a form
of illegal torture.

The anti-waterboarding provision was part of an annual
intelligence authorization bill hammered together by House and
Senate negotiators.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and a chief
sponsor of the provision, said, "For the first time, the Senate
and the House have essentially said there will be a uniform
standard for the interrogation of detainees all across the

The provision would require the Central Intelligence Agency
to comply with the U.S. Army Field Manual's rules on
questioning detainees, which forbids eight interrogation
methods, including waterboarding.

Senate Republicans had been expected to use a procedural
roadblock to eliminate the provision but backed off, figuring
Bush would veto it anyway, aides said.

McCain said earlier in the day, "I made it very clear that
I think that waterboarding is torture and illegal, but I will
not restrict the CIA to only the Army field manual."

The CIA said it does not comment on pending legislation.

Hayden told Congress last week that waterboarding may no
longer be legal, but the White House has refused to rule out
using it again.

Hayden said in his testimony that the agency would respect
interrogation limits passed by Congress and could make no
exceptions regardless of the gravity of any future emergency.

"My view is that would substantially increase the danger to
America," he said.

Date created : 2008-02-14