In a rare showing of bipartisanship, members of the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on June 16 to ban the use of waterboarding techniques and other forms of enhanced interrogation techniques that are seen as torture by many Americans and the nation’s foreign allies.
The amendment was authored by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Senators approved the measured by a vote of 78 to 21, with presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voting in support of the bill. Sen. Marco Rubio, also a Republican presidential candidate, was the only senator not in attendance at the time of the vote, The Hill reported.
“We must continue to insist that the methods we employ in this fight for peace and freedom must always, always, be as right and honorable as the goals and ideals we fight for,” McCain said. “Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.”
During his service in the Vietnam War, McCain became a prisoner of war and said the torture techniques used by the enemies on him to force him to reveal classified information did not work, furthering his support for the current legislation.
The amendment is attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, legislation that funds the Pentagon for the fiscal year. It would expand already existing legislation first created in 2005 that only banned Pentagon officials and employees from engaging in the behavior. President Barack Obama gave an executive order during his first months in office in 2009 expanding the scope of the 2005 law.
Feinstein also commented on the legislation, specifically targeting the Central Intelligence Agency’s former practices of interrogation methods.
“Whether one may think of the CIA’s former detention and interrogation program, we should all agree that there should be no turning back to the era of torture.”
The use of torture against any human “corrode our moral standing, and ultimately they undermine any counterterrorism policies they are intended to support,” Feinstein said.
A vote on the NDAA bill as a whole is scheduled for today, although some Senate Democrats have objected to Republicans “budget maneuvers” and may not vote in favor.
Photo Credit: Jim Greenhill, Flickr Creative Commons