August 4, 2008

Whitehouse, Feinstein, Others Introduce Legislation to End CIA Coercive Interrogations and Secret Detentions

Measure creates single uniform standard for all government interrogations, complies with U.S. law and international obligations

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have introduced legislation requiring the CIA to follow the Army Field Manual’s rules when conducting interrogations. The manual specifically prohibits the use of waterboarding and seven other coercive techniques.

The Restoring America’s Integrity Act would:

  • Require the CIA and all other U.S. intelligence agencies to use only those interrogation techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations;
  • Require the intelligence community to notify the International Committee of the Red Cross of any detainees being held, and to provide the agency access to those detainees;
  • Prohibit the CIA from using contractors to conduct interrogations of detainees.

The bill’s sponsors are members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Senator Rockefeller, and they understand the need to identify and understand terrorist threats and networks. The Restoring America’s Integrity Act would provide the flexible, effective tools needed to collect intelligence, consistent with America’s ideals and laws.

“Torture has done tremendous damage to America’s reputation around the world, violates U.S. and international law, and makes it harder to fight the war on terror. It’s time to turn this page in our nation’s history, and outlaw torture and secret detentions once and for all,” Senator Feinstein said.

“This legislation is already in the Intelligence Authorization Bill. But we believe we have an obligation to ensure its passage, so we’re introducing it as a separate piece of legislation as well. We will pursue every legislative option until we finally outlaw torture and secret detentions by America’s intelligence agencies.”

“The President’s misguided interrogation policies have damaged our nation’s reputation and hindered our counterterrorism efforts,” Senator Rockefeller said “Changing these policies has been a priority for the Senate Intelligence Committee for two years, but we have been blocked by the President and Senate Republicans. Today, I join Senators Feinstein and Hagel and other members in sending a clear signal that the U.S. intelligence community will not engage in torture.”

“The Bush Administration’s embrace of torture and secret detentions has led our country down a dark hallway,” said Senator Whitehouse, a former Rhode Island U.S. Attorney and Attorney General. “Never again should the practices of our government turn so far away from the values of our people. I hope these measures will help put right what has gone so badly wrong, and restore the stature, and goodwill and support this nation had earned around the world before this Administration took office. These measures are vital to cooperating with our allies and winning the war on terrorism.”

Legislative history:

On February 13, Congress approved legislation by Senators Feinstein, Hagel and Whitehouse requiring the CIA to follow the Army Field Manual in interrogations. The legislation, part of the Fiscal 2008 Intelligence Authorization Bill, would have established uniform standards on interrogation of detainees for all parts of the U.S. government. It would have specifically prohibited waterboarding and other forms of coercive interrogation techniques.

On March 8, President Bush vetoed the Feinstein-Hagel-Whitehouse legislation.

On April 29, Senator Feinstein introduced an amendment to the Fiscal 2009 Intelligence Authorization Act requiring the CIA and all American intelligence agencies to follow the Army Field Manual on interrogations. The amendment is co-sponsored by Senators Whitehouse, Rockefeller, Hagel, Feingold, Wyden, Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

On May 1, Senator Feinstein’s measure banning torture was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The legislation has not yet moved on the Senate floor.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921