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Senate committee backs measure to block CIA use of waterboarding

[JURIST] The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence [official website] voted Tuesday to restrict Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] interrogators to techniques explicitly authorized by the military, approving a measure that would effectively prevent the CIA from using waterboarding [JURIST news archive] during interrogations. The vote came during markup of a bill authorizing intelligence expenditures for the 2009 fiscal year. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) [official website] introduced the measure [press release], which would require the CIA to follow the interrogation rules included in the 2006 Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations [PDF text; press release]. The Field Manual explicitly prohibits the use of waterboarding, electrocution, sensory deprivation, inducing hypothermia, or depriving the subject of food, water or medical care.

This is the second time Congress will attempt to ban waterboarding. In March, President George W. Bush vetoed [JURIST report] the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008 [HR 2082 materials], which included a similar provision limiting CIA interrogators to interrogation techniques explicitly authorized by the 2006 Army Field Manual, and an attempt to override the veto failed [JURIST report]. In announcing his veto, Bush said [radio address transcript; recorded audio] that techniques outside those allowed in Army Field Manual were crucial to the effective interrogation of terror suspects, and that banning them would put the country at higher risk of attack. CIA Director Michael Hayden told the House Intelligence Committee in February that he had officially prohibited CIA agents from using waterboarding in 2006 [JURIST report], but that the technique has not been used in almost five years. AP has more.

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