ACLU Condemns Bush Veto Of Intelligence Bill Preventing Torture

March 8, 2008 12:00 am

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Army Field Manual would have been extended to all of federal government, including the CIA

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WASHINGTON – In a brazen move signaling a callous disregard for human rights, President Bush today vetoed the 2008 Intelligence Authorization Act largely due to a provision that would have applied the Army Field Manual (AFM) on Interrogations to all government agencies, including the CIA. The AFM, which currently applies only to the Department of Defense, prohibits specific acts of torture and abuse, including waterboarding, and specifically authorizes an array of time-tested interrogation methods. During recent congressional testimony, CIA Director Michael Hayden admitted the agency has waterboarded detainees.

“It is fundamentally un-American when our president vetoes laws against torture,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “The president’s veto sends a message to the world that despite Congress’ actions, our country will continue to engage in this inhumane and heinous conduct when we should be affirming unequivocally and in one voice that torture and abuse will stop and never happen again. No one is above the rule of law, including the president. Congress should hold firm and persist in trying to get an anti-torture bill signed into law.”

Three years ago, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) pushed to apply the AFM to all Department of Defense agencies, in what became known as the McCain Anti-Torture Amendment to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) added a provision to the Intelligence Authorization Act conference report that would extend the AFM even further to encompass all federal agencies. Both chambers of Congress voted to send the conference report to the president, with the AFM provision included.

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office added, “Senator McCain has been the leading voice in Congress on the issue of torture for many years. He led the charge in 2005 to extend the Army Field Manual to all DOD agencies. But by voting ‘no’ last month, he has given President Bush cover to veto a further extension that would rein in the CIA. The president cannot continue telling our citizens and the world that the United States does not torture when, at the same time, he vetoes legislation that would outlaw such policies. America needs Congress to continue sending President Bush anti-torture legislation until he complies with the will of the people and the Congress and signs it in to law.”

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