The U.S. Senate passed a law prohibiting the use of torture for the entire government, including the CIA. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, with 21 Senators – all Republican – voting against the measure. John McCain co-sponsored the amendment and said the Bush administration’s use of torture “compromised our values, stained our national honor and did little good.”
The new restrictions were codified in an amendment to the annual defense policy bill. According to CNN, the Senate vote was 78 to 21, with strong bi-partisan support led by John McCain.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, the Democrat co-sponsor, explained that the “current law already bans torture, as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Nevertheless, the Bush administration managed to justify the CIA torture program using a variety of legal opinions, which Feinstein called “deeply flawed legal theory.”
Shortly after coming to the White House, President Barack Obama stopped the CIA from using torture with an executive order, limiting the techniques they could use to those found in the Army Field Manual.
That executive order is only effective so long as Obama is in office, the next president would be able to either renew it or not.
The subject of torture came to the forefront about six months ago when the Senate released a 500-page summary report on the CIA program to the public.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the vote comes shortly after John Oliver discussed some of the most disturbing sections of the CIA torture report on his HBO show Last Week Tonight. The comedian even recruited Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren to read a few passages.
The new amendment codifies another part of the Obama order that gives the International Red Cross access to all U.S. detainees – a requirement found in the Geneva Convention.
Still, even with bipartisan support, there were notable holdouts in the vote. Senate leader Mitch McConnell voted no, along with his majority whip John Cornyn.
Presidential contender Marco Rubio missed the vote, but strongly disagreed with the amendment in a statement to the Guardian.
“I would have voted no on this amendment. I do not support telegraphing to the enemy what interrogation techniques we will or won’t use, and denying future commanders in chief and intelligence officials important tools for protecting the American people and the U.S. homeland.”
Fellow Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz sided with McCain in the vote. Cruz seemed to contemplate the Senate torture amendment, standing at the dais alone for a while before casting his vote.
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