U.S. House passes bill to ban “waterboarding”

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Thursday to prohibit the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from using “waterboarding” and other harsh tactics to interrogate terrorist suspects.

Being voted 222-199, the intelligence bill was sent to the Senate and will take effect should President George W. Bush sign it.

Among the bill’s provisions that were made public, one requires reporting to the committees on whether intelligence agency employees are complying with protections for detainees from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Another provision requires a report on the use of private contractors in intelligence work.

As the first intelligence authorization conference bill Congress has presented in three years, the bill also suspended 70 percent of the intelligence budget spending in 2008 until the House and Senate intelligence committees are briefed on Israel’s Sept. 6 air strike on an alleged nuclear site in Syria.

It also requires the creation of a new internal watchdog to oversee all the intelligence agencies.

The bill was approved days after CIA Director Michael Hayden testified at Congress hearings on the agency’s destruction of interrogating videotapes, reviving debate whether CIA was trying to cover torture on terrorist suspects including waterboarding.

However, the White House threatened to veto the bill this week, noting that they disagree with more than 11 areas of the bill, especially opposing restricting the CIA to interrogation methods approved by the U.S. military in 2006.

Source: Xinhua