March 8, 2008

Whitehouse: Bush Veto of Torture Ban Endangers Troops, Damages America’s Moral Standing

Cosponsor of Amendment Prohibiting Torture Responds to President's Radio Address

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and cosponsor of a measure that would ban the use of waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques by America’s intelligence agencies, responded today to President Bush’s announcement that he has vetoed the bill:

“Unfortunately, President Bush has once again refused to send the clear message the world awaits that the United States of America does not torture.

“The House and Senate voted to ban the use of torture, a move publicly endorsed by at least 43 retired generals and admirals — one a former CIA Director — who know that when America tortures, it places our troops in danger and denigrates our most cherished values. Moreover, we have heard extensive testimony from interrogation experts that the Army Field Manual is effective in obtaining the information we need to keep this country safe.

“The President’s claim that these techniques are ‘not intended for intelligence professionals trained to question hardened terrorists’ is false, and defames the experienced military interrogators who use these methods in vital national defense missions.

“The truth is: he simply won’t admit when he is wrong, no matter what the cost.

“Vetoing this bill does great damage to our country, a nation that depends on its moral authority around the world, and it sends a troubling signal to our enemies about how they may treat Americans.

“Veto or not, let there be no mistake: neither Congress nor the American people will tolerate the use of torture by this government.”

Whitehouse was the principal sponsor of an amendment prohibiting torture in July, as part of legislation authorizing funding and setting policy for the CIA and other branches of the intelligence community. When that amendment failed in the Senate Intelligence Committee, Whitehouse joined Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and several others to fight to add the amendment during House-Senate conference negotiations on the bill last December. That time, it passed.

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