Senate Democrats

Reid: President Substitutes His Judgment For Those Of Military Experts On Torture

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today in response to President Bush’s veto of the Intelligence Authorization bill:

“The President has once again compromised the moral leadership of our nation.  In vetoing the Intelligence Authorization bill that would establish a single, government-wide interrogation standard, the President has substituted his own judgment for that of dozens of bipartisan military and foreign policy experts – including Gen. Petraeus – who agree that torture is counterproductive.  Even as the President warns against ignoring the advice of our commanders in Iraq, he has rejected the Army Field Manual’s recognition that such horrific tactics elicit unreliable information, put U.S. troops at risk and undermine our counterinsurgency efforts.  Democrats will continue working to reverse the damage President Bush has caused to our standing in the world.”


Waterboarding Must Be Clearly and Explicitly Outlawed

Administration Officials Questioned Legality of Waterboarding, Said it Would Be Torture If Used on Them

 CIA Director Michael Hayden Testified That It Is Not Certain That Waterboarding Would Be Lawful Under Current Statute. “Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, told a Congressional committee on Thursday that waterboarding may be illegal under current law, despite assertions this week from the director of national intelligence and the White House that the harsh interrogation method may be used in the future. General Hayden said that while ‘all the techniques we’ve used have been deemed to be lawful,’ laws have changed since waterboarding was last used nearly five years ago. ‘It is not included in the current program, and in my own view, the view of my lawyers and the Department of Justice, it is not certain that the technique would be considered to be lawful under current statute,’ General Hayden said before the House Intelligence Committee.” [New York Times, 2/8/08] 

DIA Chief Said Waterboarding Was Inhumane, in Violation of Geneva Conventions. “Last week, the current head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Michael D. Maples, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that such simulated drowning is inhumane and in violation of the Geneva Conventions. His agency’s interrogation methods conform to the Army Field Manual.” [Boston Globe, 3/3/08

Attorney General Mukasey Admitted If He Were Subjected to Waterboarding, He Would Consider it Torture.  “Mukasey promised during his confirmation hearing that he would review the legality of interrogation techniques used by the CIA if he became attorney general.  He testified on Wednesday he had been authorized to say what had already been reported — that waterboarding is not currently used by the CIA. Therefore, he said, he would not rule on its legality.  Mukasey’s comments irritated lawmakers, and prompted Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusett Democrat, to ask him, ‘Would waterboarding be torture if it was done to you?’  ‘I would feel that it was,’ Mukasey replied.”  [Reuters, 1/30/08

DNI McConnell Said For Him, Waterboarding Would Be Torture. “If I had water draining into my nose, oh God, I just can’t imagine how painful! Whether it’s torture by anybody else’s definition, for me it would be torture.” [New Yorker, 1/13/08] 

Former Administration and Military Officials Argued Waterboarding Is Torture and Was Illegal

 Former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge Said Waterboarding Was Torture “Under Any Set of Rules.”  “‘There’s just no doubt in my mind — under any set of rules — waterboarding is torture,’ Tom Ridge said Friday in an interview with the Associated Press. Ridge had offered the same opinion earlier in the day to members of the American Bar Association at a homeland security conference.  ‘One of America’s greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don’t torture,’ Ridge said in the interview. Ridge was secretary of the Homeland Security Department between 2003 and 2005. ‘And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is — and will always be — torture. That’s a simple statement.’”  [Fox News, 1/18/08

Retired Rear Admiral Hutson Unequivocally Categorized Waterboarding as Torture.  “According to retired Rear Adm. John Hutson, ‘There is no question this is torture — this is a technique by which an individual is strapped to a board, elevated by his feet and either dunked into water or water poured over his face over a towel or a blanket.’ The legal justification of waterboarding has come to the forefront in the debate swirling around Michael B. Mukasey’s nomination for attorney general.”  [ABC News, 11/2/07

In 2004, Former Head of the Office of Legal Counsel Withdrew Memo Allowing the CIA to Use Harsh Interrogation Tactics. “And in June 2004, [former head of the Office of Legal Counsel Jack Goldsmth] withdrew the Justice Department’s infamous August 2002 memo on torture, drafted by John Yoo at Alberto Gonzales’s request. This memo, in effect, allowed the CIA to use harsh interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, head-slapping, sleep deprivation, stress positions, and exposure to extremes of heat and cold, by assuring CIA agents that they would not be prosecuted for violating the federal torture statute.” [New York Review of Books, 12/6/07]  

Intelligence and Law Enforcement Officials Have Argued That Enhanced Interrogation Techniques Are Not Effective

FBI Director Mueller Testified His Agency Had More Success Without Coercion. Responding to Senator Leahy’s question’s about the FBI’s successful use of non-coercive interrogation methods, Mueller stated, “It also is a result, I believe, of the analysis of our Behavioral Science Unit as to effective use of particular techniques where we believe that the rapport-building technique is particularly effective.” [Robert Mueller’s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, 3/5/08]   

FBI Director Mueller Stated the FBI Succeeds Without Using Coercive Interrogations. In response to Congressman Holt’s question “Now, Director Mueller and General Maples, if these harsh interrogation techniques are necessary for the CIA to retain, why have your agencies disavowed them?” Director Mueller testified, “Well, with respect to the FBI, our protocol is not to us coercive techniques, and that is our protocol. We have lived by it and it is sufficient and appropriate for our mission here in the United States and in the circumstances that…” [Director Mueller’s Testimony to the House Select Committee on Intelligence, 2/7/08]

General Maples, Head of DIA, Testified the Army Field Manual Provided All Necessary Tools.  In response to Congressman Holt’s question whether non coercive interrogation methods give interrogators the tools to elicit life-saving information, General Maples stated, “Sir, likewise, the Army field manual guides, our efforts and the efforts of the armed forces… We believe that the approaches that are in the Army field manual give us the tools that are necessary for the purpose under which we are conducting interrogation.” [General Maples’ Testimony to the House Select Committee on Intelligence, 2/7/08

But Bush Administration Continues to Argue that it Has the Right to Waterboard Detainees

White House Admitted Waterboarding, Reserved Right to Do It Again. “Fratto said the nation’s top intelligence officials ‘didn’t rule anything out’ during congressional testimony Tuesday on CIA interrogation methods, and he indicated that Bush might consider reauthorizing waterboarding or other harsh techniques in extreme cases, such as when there is ‘belief that an attack might be imminent.’ For years, White House officials denied that the U.S. had engaged in torture but always stopped short of confirming whether waterboarding had been used.” [Los Angeles Times, 2/7/08

DNI McConnell Testified That Waterboarding Remains in CIA Arsenal. “Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, who also testified at the hearing, said waterboarding remains a technique in the CIA’s arsenal, according to The Associated Press. He said it would require the president’s consent and legal approval from the attorney general, the AP reported.” [CNN, 2/5/08

Attorney General Mukasey Asserted Waterboarding is No Longer Authorized, But Could Be Considered Legal Depending on the Circumstances. “Mukasey told Congress last week that the CIA no longer uses ‘waterboarding’ and that it was not ‘currently’ an authorized interrogation technique. But he refused to say whether waterboarding is torture. ‘There are some circumstances where current law would appear clearly to prohibit waterboarding’s use. Other circumstances would present a far closer question.’” [Agence France Presse, 2/5/08

Head of Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel Testified that Waterboarding Could Be Brought Back Into Use With the Approval of CIA Director, Attorney General and President. “Taken as a whole, Bradbury seems to be saying that waterboarding is not currently in use and that there currently is no legal sanction for it, which is a bit further than CIA Director Michael Hayden went recently when he said that waterboarding had been used on three detainees in the past but that it currently is of dubious legality. The operative word in this discussion is ‘currently.’ Bradbury says that waterboarding at the moment is off limits — but could be brought back into use with the personal approval of the CIA director, the Attorney General and the President.” [Baltimore Sun, 2/14/08]