From the New York Times:
A senior Justice Department official says laws and other limits enacted since three terrorism suspects were waterboarded has eliminated the technique from what is now legally allowed, going a step beyond what CIA Director Michael Hayden has said.
”The set of interrogation methods authorized for current use is narrower than before, and it does not today include waterboarding,” Steven G. Bradbury, acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, says in remarks prepared for his appearance Thursday before the House Judiciary Constitution subcommittee.
”There has been no determination by the Justice Department that the use of waterboarding, under any circumstances, would be lawful under current law,” he said. It is the first time the department has expressed such an opinion publicly.
Meanwhile, President Bush is threatening to veto a bill that bans waterboarding.
The prohibition was contained in a bill authorizing intelligence activities for the current year, which the Senate approved on a 51-45 vote. It would restrict the CIA to the 19 interrogation techniques outlined in the Army field manual. That manual prohibits waterboarding, a method that makes an interrogation subject feel he is drowning.
The House had approved the measure in December. Wednesday’s Senate vote set up a confrontation with the White House, where Bush has promised to veto any bill that restricts CIA questioning.
The legislation bars the CIA from using waterboarding, sensory deprivation or other harsh coercive methods to break a prisoner who refuses to answer questions. Those practices were banned by the military in 2006.
By the way, John McCain, the one person who should know what is torture and what isn’t, refused to vote to ban waterboarding.
Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war, has consistently voiced opposition to waterboarding and other methods that critics say is a form torture. But the Republicans, confident of a White House veto, did not mount the challenge. Mr. McCain voted “no” on Wednesday afternoon.
So we can assume this is just one of the ways he’s going to suck up to the right wing from now until the election.