Last month, Democrats, with the help of a few crossover Republicans (but not Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)), passed a bill that would have limited the CIA's interrogation techniques to those authorized by the Army Field Manual. Waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation" techniques (use of hoods or duct tape over the eyes, inducing hypothermia, etc.) would have been specifically and unambiguously outlawed.
President Bush, as promised, vetoed that bill
, saying that restricting CIA interrogators "could cost American lives." An override vote failed
in the House.
Now Senate Democrats are going to try again. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says that she'll introduce the measure as an amendment to 2009's Senate intelligence authorization bill, because "at the time [of the veto] we vowed to come back - again and again if necessary - to ensure that torture by U.S. intelligence agencies is outlawed for good." Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are also sponsoring the amendment. Over the weekend, Wyden released correspondence
from the Justice Department showing how lawyers there dealt with current ambiguity in the relevant laws. What counted as an "outrage upon personal dignity," a DoJ official wrote, depended on whether "an act is undertaken to prevent a threatened terrorist attack."