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President Bush Vetoes Waterboarding Ban

By Scott Stearns
Washington
08 March 2008

President Bush has vetoed legislation that would have limited CIA interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush says terrorists are still plotting to attack America so this is no time for Congress to abandon interrogation techniques that he says have kept the nation safe. "The bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror - the CIA program to detain and question key terrorist leaders and operatives. This program has produced critical intelligence that has helped us prevent a number of attacks," he said.

In his weekly radio address, President Bush announced that he has vetoed the bill that passed the House and Senate last month. Opposition Democrats say they will try to over-ride the veto in the coming week, but they do not appear to have the votes in either chamber to gain the two-thirds majority needed.

The legislation sought to limit CIA interrogators to the 19 techniques allowed in the 2006 Army Field Manual. That manual prohibits methods such as simulated drowning, sensory deprivation, mock executions, hypothermia, beating and burning.

While President Bush says the United States does not use torture, he says the CIA must be able to use what he calls safe and lawful interrogation procedures that are outside the boundaries set by the Army Field Manual. "The procedures in this manual were designed for use by soldiers questioning lawful combatants captured on the battlefield. They were not intended for intelligence professionals trained to question hardened terrorists," he said.

In a written statement, Wisconsin Senator Democrat Russ Feingold said the CIA's interrogation program is morally reprehensible, legally unjustified, and has not made the country safer. He said the president's veto is inexplicable and adds to what Feingold says is President Bush's legacy of disregarding the rule of law.

The most controversial of the CIA's specialized interrogation procedures is a method of simulated drowning known as waterboarding, where a person is strapped down and has water poured over his cloth-covered face. The CIA has publicly said it used the technique against three al-Qaida prisoners.

The agency prohibited waterboarding in 2006 and says it has not been used since 2003.



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