12.06.07

Whitehouse Cosponsors Amendment Prohibiting Torture

Bipartisan Measure Included in Conference Report on Intelligence Funding Bill

Washington, D.C. - An amendment cosponsored by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) that effectively bans CIA interrogators from using torture has been adopted by the Congressional Intelligence Committees as part of an intelligence funding bill for 2008.

The measure, which would prohibit members of the intelligence community from using any interrogation technique beyond those authorized in the Army Field Manual, was sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and also cosponsored by Senators Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). Whitehouse and Feinstein had introduced a similar amendment earlier this year.

"By adopting this amendment, the two Intelligence Committees - Congress's experts on these matters - have sent a clear signal to America and to the world: that in this country the rule of law is our strongest bulwark against those who would do us harm," Whitehouse said. "It is a signal that we expect our enemies to treat Americans humanely and with dignity, and we will do the same with them. And it signals our intent to restore America to its rightful place as the shining city on a hill; a beacon to other nations that reflects the hopes and aspirations of millions all over the world."

The amendment reads: "No individual in the custody or under the effective control of an element of the intelligence community or instrumentality thereof, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations."

A number of military and civilian experts in interrogation have stressed that torture is ineffective in eliciting reliable intelligence. During an Intelligence Committee hearing in September, Colonel Steve Kleinman, a senior reserve intelligence officer with the Air Force Special Operations Command with 22 years of experience in interrogation, told Whitehouse that "I've never felt any necessity or operational requirement to bring physical, psychological or emotional pressure on a source to win their cooperation."

In a May 2007 letter to troops serving in Iraq, General David Petraeus wrote that "our experience in applying the interrogation standards laid out in the Army Field Manual (2-22.3) on Human Intelligence Collector Operations that was published last year shows that the techniques in the manual work effectively and humanely in eliciting information from detainees."

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