WASHINGTON, March 7 (Reuters) – President George W. Bush will veto legislation on Saturday banning U.S. intelligence agents from using waterboarding and other controversial interrogation methods, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said on Friday.
Last month, Congress sent Bush a broad intelligence authorization bill that contained new limits on CIA interrogation techniques, despite Bush administration warnings that such a measure would be rejected.
“The president will veto the intelligence authorization bill tomorrow,” Fratto told reporters.
“President Bush’s veto will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency,” charged Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who supported the legislation outlawing waterboarding.
Quoting the Army Field Manual, Kennedy said, “‘Use of torture is not only illegal but also it is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say what he thinks the [interrogator] wants to hear.'”
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
The issue also has potential ramifications for GOP presidential nominee John McCain, R-Ariz., a longtime critic of coercive interrogation tactics who nonetheless backed the Bush administration in opposing the CIA waterboarding ban.
The legislation would have limited the CIA to using 19 less-aggressive tactics outlined in a U.S. Army field manual on interrogations. Besides ruling out waterboarding, that restriction would effectively ban temperature extremes, extended forced standing and other harsh methods that the CIA used on al Qaeda prisoners after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
CIA Director Michael Hayden has also spoken out against the Senate bill and defended the methods as lawful and effective.
In a statement to the Washington Post, Hayden said the Army manual guidelines were intended for “a different population of detainees, a different group of interrogators, and for different intelligence needs” than those of the nation’s chief spy agency. The CIA has not specified all the tactics it wants to keep using but says it no longer uses waterboarding. Administration officials have not ruled out using the tactic again.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Friday that Bush has “compromised the moral leadership of our nation” and that the administration is ignoring the advice of military experts who oppose harsh techniques.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Harry Soyster, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, suggested that those who support harsh methods simply lack experience and do not know what they are talking about.
“If they think these methods work, they’re woefully misinformed,” Soyster said at a news briefing called in anticipation of the veto. “Torture is counterproductive on all fronts. It produces bad intelligence. It ruins the subject, makes them useless for further interrogation. And it damages our credibility around the world.”