We've been down this road before, first with the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act
and then with this summer's executive order on interrogations
. And, like water seeking its own level, each time the Bush administration faces some kind of legal obstacle to torturing terrorism detainees, it finds a way to circumvent it. Even so, Congress is prepared to pass
yet another ban on CIA torture techniques, the AP reports.
House and Senate negotiators working on an intelligence bill have agreed to limit CIA interrogators to techniques approved by the military, which would effectively bar them from using such harsh methods as waterboarding, congressional aides said Wednesday.
Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees decided to include the ban while working out differences in their respective bills authorizing 2008 spending for intelligence programs, according to the aides, who spoke anonymously because the negotiations were private. Details of the bill are to be made public Thursday.
That will set the stage for another veto fight with President Bush, who last summer issued an executive ordered allowing the CIA to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" that go beyond what's allowed in the 2006 Army Field Manual.
The Army field manual is compliant with the Geneva Conventions, the Constitution, and the laws of the United States of America. Waterboarding and the other potentially-banned tortures are not. Three guesses on which the Bush administration will choose.
From a not-yet-online piece from Congressional Quarterly
, the White House proclaims that torture, and only torture, can keep your children safe:
And White House spokesman Tony Fratto issued a statement saying, "if that provision is in the bill, it would make a bad bill worse. We had a veto message on a similar provision in the House's supplemental funding bill. The CIA program has provided valuable, actionable intelligence that has allowed us to find and capture terrorists and prevent attacks. Efforts to weaken this program are dangerous and misguided."
As the AP notes, CIA director Mike Hayden has (euphemistically) defended torturing detainees
. Attorney General Michael Mukasey has pleaded ignorance
on whether waterboarding is torture. In an interview with TPMmuckraker on Monday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) pledged to press Mukasey on the legality of waterboarding every time Mukasey testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee. With the White House spending more energy defending its God-given right to torture than it spends, say, finding Osama bin Laden, prepare to see this sorry spectacle again and again over the next fourteen months.