McCain, Feinstein seek to add anti-torture measure to defense bill

McCain, Feinstein seek to add anti-torture measure to defense bill
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A bipartisan group of senators wants to permanently ban the government from waterboarding people, depriving them of sleep or using any other extreme techniques during an interrogation.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO Mark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally MORE (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report — Shutdown fallout — economic distress Feinstein grappling with vote on AG nominee Barr 5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act limiting the government from using any interrogation technique not specified in the Army Field Manual.

The bill would codify limitations handed down by President Obama early in his first term, and serve as a permanent bulwark against the type of “enhanced interrogation techniques” — commonly considered torture — used during the Bush administration.

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Human rights groups that have harshly condemned the CIA’s history of brutal interrogations cheered the measure.

“The U.S. must take steps to guard against a return to torture as an official national security policy in all but name,” Amnesty International USA Director Steven Hawkins said in a statement.

The measure would extend the restrictions throughout the government — not just the Pentagon — and also require the Army Field Manual to be updated every three years to make sure that it “complies with the legal obligations of the United States and reflects current, evidence-based, best practices for interrogation that are designed to elicit reliable and voluntary statements and do not involve the use or threat of force.”

Additionally, the measure would require that the government give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to anyone detained by the U.S.

“This is how a strong democracy deals with its mistakes — we examine what we did, and take the necessary steps to make it right,” added Elisa Massimino, the head of Human Rights First. “The Senate should work quickly to pass this amendment.”

Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) — the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee — and Susan Collins (R-Maine) co-sponsored the measure.

The introduction of the amendment comes after a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay detailed new abuses at the hands of the CIA, including ice water poured on his genitals and video recordings of him naked.

Last year, Feinstein — then the chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee — released a scathing report of the CIA’s interrogation program, which it claimed was ineffective and run in a way that deceived the public and its Washington overseers.