The Senate voted 78-21 today in favor of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to forbid the use of torture by the U.S. government. The amendment was sponsored by eleven senators, including Angus King and Susan Collins of Maine.
The legislation would prevent American personnel from using waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” not authorized by the Army Field Manual. It would also require regular reviews of the Manual to ensure it “reflects current, evidence-based, and best practices for interrogation that are designed to elicit reliable and voluntary statements and do not involve the use or threat of force.”
Both Collins and King have been vocal opponents of government-sanctioned torture and have also called for greater transparency on the use of torture by the CIA.
“By definitively prohibiting the use of torture techniques, we will take an important step towards rectifying our past mistakes and demonstrating – before the eyes of the world – that the United States does not and never again will condone torture,” said King in a statement released after the amendment passed. “As a nation, we set out to be different, to break with a past where cruelty was routine, humanity was disposable, and an enemy’s barbarity justified a response in kind. We may not live that creed every day. Indeed, there are times when we have fallen short of our ideal. And when we do, it is our responsibility to acknowledge those mistakes, to learn from them, and to strive to rise above them.”
“The use of torture is wrong and inhumane, and I strongly oppose the use of cruel interrogation tactics,” said Collins. “This amendment reaffirms the prohibition of torture and improves American standards for interrogation in accordance with our values as a nation.”
Send a note of thanks to senators King and Collins right here.
Photo of anti-torture protest via Flickr/Justin Norman