The McCain-Feinstein Amendment: Rebuilding the Bipartisan Consensus against Torture

Yesterday, the Senate approved Senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein’s anti-torture amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016. With a 78-21 vote, the McCain-Feinstein anti-torture amendment represents one of the greatest bipartisan achievements in recent years. Fewer than one in five amendments in the last three sessions of Congress have received as much or more support than the anti-torture amendment. In the 114th Congress, only 13% of amendments (15 of 117) have received as much or more support.

Prior to the vote, both Senators McCain and Feinstein took to the floor to speak in support of the amendment, emphasizing the need to reinforce the ban on torture.

Senator Feinstein noted, “Interrogation techniques that would together constitute torture do not work. They corrode our moral standing and ultimately they undermine any counterterrorism policies they are intended to support.”

Last week in anticipation of this vote Human Rights First brought dozens of retired military leaders and former interrogators to Washington, D.C. to speak with senators and their staff. The groups also sent letters to senators urging support for the anti-torture measure.

In his statement Senator McCain emphasized, “This [amendment] is supported by some of our most experienced military leaders. They expressed their views in a letter I received this month, 30 of whom are retired, including a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, former commander of CENTCOM, former commander and chief of U.S. Army Europe.”

Beyond ensuring that torture by U.S. agents is a thing of the past, McCain and Feinstein demonstrated that when it comes to the moral standing of our country, members of Congress can look past party lines and do what is right. Human Rights First thanks them for their leadership.

For more on the McCain-Feinstein anti-torture amendment, check out our website.


Published on June 17, 2015


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