President Vetoes Bill that Would Enforce Torture Ban

Human Rights First’s Washington Director Elisa Massimino, released the following statement in response to the President’s veto of interrogation policy legislation.

Washington, DC – “Today President Bush vetoed legislation that would have begun to restore U.S. moral authority around the world and make American personnel safer. By sending legislation to the President that would require all U.S. interrogators to adhere to the Army Field Manual, Congress made unmistakably clear that it does not support the CIA’s use of secret, coercive interrogation methods. The President’s refusal to sign this crucial legislation into law will undermine counterterrorism efforts globally and delay efforts to rebuild U.S. credibility on human rights.

“The KGB-style abuses that have reportedly been authorized for use by the CIA — including waterboarding, stress positions, hypothermia, and sleep deprivation — are already illegal. But Administration lawyers have issued secret memos that twist the meaning of these laws in support of a policy that subverts the law. The authorization and use of torture by the United States has endangered our troops and has had a devastating impact on U.S. moral authority and standing in the world. The legislation which the President vetoed today would have reversed these bad faith interpretations of the law by enumerating approaches to interrogation that are proven, effective, humane, and lawful.

“The United States cannot afford to wait for the next administration to enforce the ban on torture and other cruel treatment. Congress must press ahead to stop the use of any interrogations tactic — by any U.S. agency — that it would reject as unlawful if used by our enemies against captured Americans. The security of our nation and the safety of our troops depend upon it.”

The transcript of a recent press conference with an Oscar winner, a former National Security Advisor, and retired generals urging the President not to veto the bill is available at: /wp-content/uploads/pdf/08229-etn-telebrief-transcript.pdf

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Published on March 8, 2008

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