New Bipartisan Legislation Would Ban Use of Torture

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today praises bipartisan legislation designed to prevent the use of torture or cruel treatment by the CIA or any other agency of the U.S. government.  The organization said that the reforms, co-sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), are an historic step forward in ensuring that torture is never again the official policy of the United States. The reforms were announced as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.

“Torture betrays our ideals as Americans, and is not a partisan issue. I applaud the leadership of Senators McCain and Feinstein in working together and seizing this opportunity to close the door on that dark part of our history,” said General Charles C. Krulak, former Commandant of the Marine Corps and leader of a group of more than 60 retired military leaders who have advocated against the use of torture.

Today’s proposed reforms follow the release of a landmark Senate intelligence committee study late last year that documents widespread brutality, incompetence, and ineffectiveness in the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program.  The study detailed shocking human rights abuses—including the use of “rectal feeding,” sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, and threats to kill and rape detainees’ family members. The study concluded that torture and cruel treatment failed to produce unique, otherwise unavailable information to stop terrorist attacks or save American lives.

“The legislation introduced today recognizes that humane, lawful interrogation methods are actually more efficient at gaining actionable intelligence,” said Frank Anderson, a 26-year CIA veteran and former Chief of the CIA’s Near East and South Asia Division.

The bill, designed to prevent any future administration from authorizing torture and other cruelty that violates domestic or international law, would:

  • Restrict the intelligence community—and the CIA in particular—to interrogation methods articulated in the Army Field Manual; and
  • Require that the International Committee of the Red Cross be provided notification of and access to detainees held in U.S. custody.

“Around the world, people look to the United States for leadership on human rights. Once again, Senators McCain and Feinstein are demonstrating that leadership. This is how a strong democracy deals with its mistakes—we examine what we did, and take the necessary steps to make it right. The Senate should work quickly to pass this amendment,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino.


Published on June 9, 2015


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