No waterboarding: Senate passes torture ban

The U.S. Senate passed a law banning torture of prisoners by a vote of 78–21 Tuesday despite objections by some Republican senators.

The amendment was added on to the National Defense Authorization Act, outlawing specific methods including “rectal feeding” and waterboarding.

In a rare show of cooperation, the amendment was agreed to on a bipartisan basis. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D- Calif.) co-authored the bill. McCain was tortured as a POW in Vietnam and urged his fellow senators to pass the ban.

“I know from personal experience that abuse of prisoners does not provide good, reliable intelligence,” he said. “I firmly believe that all people, even captured enemies, are protected by basic human rights.”

McCain has been outspoken critic of the Bush-era torture programs, and a 6,700 page report from the Senate Intelligence Committee on such programs backs up his concern.

The Intelligence Committee released a scathing report in December condemning the C.I.A for actions during the George W. Bush administration. Included were what it called the agency’s brutal treatment of detainees, a lack of oversight over its secret prisons worldwide, and routine misleading of the White House and Congress about what it had collected through interrogations.

The ban replaces a 2009 executive order signed by President Obama outlawing the torture of prisoners. Feinstein said the amendment was vital because a future president could choose to lift the order.


[The Hill] [New York Times] [The Guardian] [AP] [Photo courtesy Mark Wilson/Getty Images]