US Senate votes to ban waterboarding by CIA

Irish Sun

The US Senate has voted to prevent the CIA from using torture-like waterboarding and other forms of coercion on prisoners, completing work on a bill already passed by the other chamber in December.

The bill, passed in a 51 to 45 vote Wednesday, will now be sent to the White House, the Washington Post reported online. US President George W. Bush has threatened to veto the measure.

The bill requires the CIA and other intelligence agencies to follow the US army regulations in questioning prisoners, the Washington Post reported online.

In intense debate over the past two weeks, the White House has refused to rule out the possibility of using waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

CIA director Michael Hayden has admitted to Congress that the agency used the technique to get information from three top Al Qaeda operatives, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks who was captured in Pakistan in 2003.

Congress previously banned waterboarding and other harsh tactics, but the Bush administration said the law did not apply to intelligence agencies.

The top US law enforcement official, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, has also refused to tell the Senate whether he believed waterboarding is legal or not.

‘If this were an easy question, I would not be reluctant to offer my views on this subject,’ Mukasey said.

Lawmakers have based the contents of the bill on the contents of the US Army’s handbook for interrogation techniques, which expressly prohibits mock drowning. The House version of the bill banned sexual humiliation, mock executions, the use of attack dogs and the withholding of food and medical care, the report said.