Senate Passes Amendment to Ban Torture

Senate Passes Amendment to Ban Torture June 19, 2015

In a very positive step, the Senate voted overwhelmingly for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that bans the use of torture in all circumstances. The amendment, sponsored by John McCain and Dianne Feinstein, passed by a 78-21 vote (Marco Rubio didn’t bother to show up).

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to ban the U.S. from ever again subjecting prisoners to waterboarding, “rectal feeding” and other brutal interrogation practices widely condemned as torture.

In a 78-21 vote, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle supported a new prohibition on “enhanced interrogation” practices and other novel detention methods.

“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,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee and an author of the amendment.

“Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.”

The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would limit the entire U.S. government to the interrogation and detention techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual. That would codify in law an executive order delivered by President Obama days after he entered office in 2009 and expand the scope of a 2005 law that limited the Pentagon — but not intelligence agencies such as the CIA — from engaging in the harsh interrogations.

All of the 21 votes against the amendment were from Republicans, including Lindsey Graham. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul voted for the amendment.


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