House Dems Strip Torture Ban, Pass Intel Bill

$50 Billion in Classified Funding for Agencies Passes 235-168

In a vote which still broke down almost entirely around party lines, House Democrats managed to pass the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 by a vote of 235-168, a bill which will provide $50 billion in funding for classified intelligence operations.

The Democratic leadership only managed to win this passage after hastily removing the “Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Interrogation Act of 2010,” an amendment to the funding act which would have criminalized the torture or other abuse of detainees. Interrogators violating a long list of very specific torture bans would have faced up to 15 years in prison, and a maximum of life in prison if they tortured the detainee to death.

It became clear last night that there were not enough votes to pass the act with the torture ban attached, after Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) angrily condemned the ban as “outrageous” and claimed that the funding act was supposed to be about “defending our nation, not giving greater protections to terrorists.

Though Hoekstra still voted against the bill even with the ban removed (as did every other Republican who voted except for Joseph Cao (R-LA)), the ruckus he raised over the torture ban led several centrist Democrats to voice their opposition to the ban as well, which would have made it impossible to pass the funding with the ban included.

The White House has expressed opposition to several provisions of the bill over the past six months, but appears to have gotten materially everything it wants. The only provision regarding detainee treatment remaining in the bill at this point is a requirement that the CIA videotape all interrogations they perform.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.