Weaning Ourselves From Torture: Step One

Progress toward human decency today.

The House approved an intelligence bill Thursday that would prohibit the CIA from using waterboarding, mock executions and other harsh interrogation methods.

The 222-199 vote sent the measure to the Senate, which still must act before it can go to President Bush. The White House has threatened a veto…

The White House threatened to veto the measure this week in a lengthy statement, highlighting more than 11 areas of disagreement with the bill.

The administration particularly opposes restricting the CIA to interrogation methods approved by the military in 2006. That document prohibits forcing detainees to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; placing hoods or sacks over detainees’ heads or duct tape over their eyes; beating, shocking, or burning detainees; threatening them with military dogs; exposing them to extreme heat or cold; conducting mock executions; depriving them of food, water, or medical care; and waterboarding.

Sadly, this is an all too slender victory. It would be unfair to say that 199 members of Congress think the CIA’s being able to do the things prohibited to the military is groovy. The bill is long and much of it classified; yet the prohibition does stand out as a significant move today. Here’s how the New York delegation¬† voted:

Representative Serrano and all Republican members of the New York delgation voted nay.

Representatives Ackerman and McNulty did not vote.

All others voted aye.

The Senate has yet to act.

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