Bush threatens to veto torture ban

The House approved an intelligence bill Thursday that would prohibit the CIA from using waterboarding, mock executions and other harsh interrogation methods.

The 222-199 vote sent the measure to the Senate, which still must act before it can go to President Bush. The White House has threatened a veto.

The bill, a House-Senate compromise to authorize intelligence operations in 2008, also blocks spending 70 percent of the intelligence budget until the House and Senate intelligence committees are briefed on Israel’s Sept. 6 air strike on an alleged nuclear site in Syria.

The 2008 intelligence budget is classified, but it is more than the $43 billion approved for 2007.

Most of the bill itself also is classified, although some portions were made public. One provision requires reporting to the committees on whether intelligence agency employees are complying with protections for detainees from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Another requires a report on the use of private contractors in intelligence work.

It is the first intelligence authorization conference bill Congress has produced in three years.

The White House threatened to veto the measure this week in a lengthy statement, highlighting more than 11 areas of disagreement with the bill.

The administration particularly opposes restricting the CIA to interrogation methods approved by the military in 2006. That document prohibits forcing detainees to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; placing hoods or sacks over detainees’ heads or duct tape over their eyes; beating, shocking, or burning detainees; threatening them with military dogs; exposing them to extreme heat or cold; conducting mock executions; depriving them of food, water, or medical care; and waterboarding.

Waterboarding is a particularly harsh form of interrogation that involves strapping down a prisoner, covering his mouth with plastic or cloth and pouring water over his face. The prisoner quickly begins to inhale water, causing the sensation of drowning.

The CIA is known to have waterboarded three prisoners but has not used the technique since 2003, according to a government official familiar with the program who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified. CIA Director Michael Hayden prohibited waterboarding in 2006. The U.S. military outlawed it the same year.

The intelligence authorization bill also creates a new internal watchdog to oversee all the intelligence agencies. It requires Senate approval for the first time of two agency heads_ the National Reconnaissance Office, which manages the nation’s spy satellites, and the National Security Agency, the outfit that conducted warrantless wiretapping on American phone and computer lines in what the White House calls the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

Separately on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected legislation that would have protected telecommunications companies from civil lawsuits over helping the government eavesdrop on Americans’ communications without court orders. The legislation would have made the government the defendant in such lawsuits, rather than telecommunications companies. The 5-13 vote sank the measure pushed by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who hoped it could be a compromise in the dispute over whether to immunize the companies from lawsuits.

In competing legislation written in October, the Senate Intelligence Committee granted legal immunity to telecom companies. The House passed a bill that does not protect the companies. The White House has also threatened to veto that bill.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell briefed the Senate in a closed session about the matter, making a renewed pitch for flexibility in the rules governing U.S. intelligence surveillance of communications involving foreign targets.


  1. yarply

    Raping of your wife or kids in front of you to elicit answers will probably still be Ok because its not considered torture or a harsh interrogation method unless the abuse is directed specifically at the one you are trying to get answers from and is not specifically banned under said agreement.

    Other harsh interrogation methods? Boy,,,, you can see the loophole there.
    CIA guy saying to his boss about the guy that has been zapped, boarded, frozen, sodomized or just had the crap beat out of him;
    Look boss, we didn’t ask him anything, see,, so this isn’t covered as a harsh interrogation method, see,,, we didn’t ask him ANYTHING.

    Who is going to monitor these “people” while they are doing their questioning at their secret detention centers,, to say whether or not they comply?

  2. Jenifer D.

    Spines in short supply

    BIG TIME amongst our electeds. Apathy is epidemic amongst the masses. I’ve always said, alot of folks here are just plain lazy and do not care about what happens in this country as long as it does not impact their lifestyle or their paycheck. The day after evidence of this country’s sad state of affairs is dumped on their front porch and set ablaze, they’ll care, but it’ll be too late to do anything by then.

  3. Sandra Price

    Jenifer. A large percentage of the American voters are voting their points of view and they have been very consistent. They have been told from their first Sunday school classes that The Messiah will return and all good Christians must be prepared. I went through this training and bought it until I grew to understand the power of these people into our government. These people do care and feel they want to give the Messiah every opportunity to win the battle over Satan. They were told that we are fighting a religious war and we must conquer the Islamic people once and for all.

    These crusades always slaughter innocent people in the name of Jesus Christ. The religion believes in sacrifing for their God.

  4. SEAL

    Christians have always imposed their god by force. They exterminated entire races in the Americas to accomplish that.

  5. Steve Horn

    Interesting – it would appear that Mr. Bush is gunning to have the distinct dishonor of being the first American president to stand before the dock facing international charges of crimes against humanity – after all – isn’t shit like this what got Sadam on the wrong end of a rope?



  6. Sandra Price

    He is asking for civil war but remember he has the power to declare a military action against us all. Steve, who will bring this action against humanity into court? I am finding a massive lack of spine in our government and even on the internet.

    Is it that firm action might ruin our holidays? Is there a single candidate in either party who will stand up to this mess?

    There is an Executive Order if any of us take any action against this veto. He has gotten away with so many crimes and there has been little movement to stop him. The problem is that we have no one who will stand up and we again will lose due to apathy.

  7. Steve Horn

    Sandra – the action need not be brought by one of the spineless wonders in congress, the action can be brought through international action. I find it curious that Iran or some other nation to which the administration is quite hostile hasn’t started to push to have Bush arrested.

    It seems clear, at least to me, that his actions in Iraq are illegal. Iraq was of no threat to the United States at the time of the invasion. There is no way that Iraq could have invaded the United States, their military had pretty much been destroyed by GHWB during the first Gulf War.

    We need to hold these tyrants responsible for their actions. If Bush really considers himself to be a Christian he must have a hard time accepting that he’s got more blood on his hands than Judas could ever have imagined.

    As I type this I’m listening to an old friend sing “no more war” – the guys name is John Flynn – check his CD “Two Wolves”.



  8. Bill Jonke

    I’m afraid that Bush has serious mental issues. The fact that he and his policies have not been quashed long ago is no tribute to us as Americans, especially the ones who voted him in.

    However, I also think he had every intention of treating us all like suckers. This sounds to me like some kind of vengeance he’s intent on wreaking on all of us for something we are blameless for. This sounds like acute paranoia.

    I just wish he shoot himself in the foot big time, without a gang of ragamuffin Senators and Congress people always ultimately caving in and pleasuring him ALL THE TIME.

    It’s gotta be bribery.

  9. keith

    Bill, I think it goes well beyond bribery…

    I’m convinced, now more than ever, that the Israel lobby (using information that’s been obtained for them by their own Mossad) has Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and every other person currently serving in our US Congress by the gonads.

    When you plug THAT reality into the equation, then it all makes perfect sense.

  10. Sandra Price

    Bill, it could be simple apathy in America and fear in other nations. I think we all know the man is a paranoid mess and could react violently against us all. Bush still has a lot of followers in the Pentagon and throughout D.C.

    I think we got more than we bargained for in 2000. We might be better off just hoping he does not strike out against us. Most dictators will, if pushed. I wish we had a strong list of candidates who will keep a close look at the next 12 months. I have great respect for Jim Webb and feel he is the strong member of the Senate who will work for all of us.

    I feel as if we are back in the European Inquisition days always looking over our shoulders in fear.

  11. Steve Horn

    Sandra – your “fear of other nations” is pretty close – in reality our “Christian” president has forced a sense of fear of Islamics down our collective throats. They’re “Islamic terrorists” or “Islamic insurgents” when our “Christian” fanatic president or his minions speak of them. The administration has worked very hard to keep most Americans terrified of another attack.
    The fact that the vast majority of Islamic folks are peace loving, hard working people is ignored by the press and forced under the carpet by the government.
    It really doesn’t take that much work to do your own research on those who follow Islam – just go to a local mosque and have a chat with a member – keep an open mind and an open heart (both of which I’m certain you have) and try to put yourself into their shoes. Imagine the nation with the strongest military in the world being on an apparent mission to squash your system of beliefs.
    The real problem is – many Americans are buying this load of balderdash and think that anyone with a Qu’ran in their hand is a potential suicide bomber.
    But then again, this administration is also composed of and supported by folks who fear homosexuals, athiests, scientific fact and any other concept they can’t get their strong, small minds around – so how can we expect them to understand diversity of any kind?



  12. GSCJr

    Paul Cawthorne
    From the numbers in the vote on this bill, it appears that this was pretty much a straight party-line vote. What ARE those Republicams ingesting? Why are they following their infamous leader down into the septic tank of history? I doubt that all of these representatives are from red states. So far as I am aware, John Boehner and his bunch are no Texan exterminators. So why is party-line voting pursued on this issue in particular. Knowing the opinions of my relatives in the south who live in Republican districts, I cannot square their attitudes with a support of torture. Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make blind. (Who was it that said that–Aeschylus?)

  13. Janet

    Hitler was able to torture and exterminate 6 million Jews and 2 million other “problems” because of apathy. Nobody stood up to him. If you believe in the anti-Christ prophecy, the anti-Christ presents himself as someone who wants to bring peace to the world, then unveils his true identity. As he takes control of the world, the masses are forced to wear the 666 and cannot conduct business or buy anything unless they do. Maybe just a biblical fairy tale, but who knows? Bush still claims to be Christian while he acts like Satan. He hasn’t revealed himself yet, but hmmmm……or maybe he’s just pathologically insane and needs to be institutionalized.

    It’s time for the spineless Democrats and even Republicans to stand up to him, have some integrity and do something to stop this insanity. Bush is unfit to be president of the US and leader of the free world. Everyone should be calling and writing their representatives and senators to demand they do something – at the price of not being re-elected if they don’t.

  14. Wayne K Dolik

    Janet what you said is correct. here’s a quote from Thomas Jefferson.

    “In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

    Dec. of Indp.

  15. SEAL

    Those who wrote and signed the Declaration Of Independence were desparate people living in desparate times. They were already living under martial law. They had no sense of freedom at all. They had to hide behind blacked out windows just to have a meeting. They had no choice but to rebel or exist as chatel subject to the whims of a tyrant.

    The people of today still have the illusion of freedom. They believe they have the power of the vote, not realizing the last two presidential elections were stolen. They have the attitude that ” he is a bad president but we will be rid of him next year.” Americans have this belief that no one can hurt the country too badly because we have the Constitution that protects us. We go through good and bad times but we always come out on top. Look at our history.

    They cling to their Constitution like it is a life raft in the sea, not realizing Bush has punched it full of holes. If they don’t get busy and patch up all those holes they will be in the same desparate circumstances that forced the revoution that created this nation. But they won’t as long as they have the illuision of freedom and two cars in the driveway.

    A couple of years ago I offerred the question wondering if congress would not stand up to Bush for fear of how he would react. That he just might create the conditions that would cause another revolt. They know he is a tyrant. What would a tyrant do if you tried to remove him from power? If you just said no to him? Is It that fear that causes them to play this game with him in hopes to keep him occcupied until his time expires? Could it be they know beter than we just how dangerous Bush really is?

  16. DVL666

    I hope GWB vetoes the Bill and then the next President can have him secretly detained and questioned using guidelines that GWB thinks are not torture. The same for the rest of his cabal.