House Democrats stopped a vote last night over the $50 billion classified intelligence budget following growing opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats to a provision which would have criminalized the torture of detainees.
The “Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Interrogation Act of 2010” specifically banned a long list of forms of abuse and torture, and threatened interrogators with 15 years in prison for violating the bans. Interrogators would face up to life in prison if they tortured the detainee to death.
Several Republican Congressmen, led by Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) termed the amendment “outrageous,” claiming it was an attack on the intelligence community. Centrist Democrats joined in, threatening to oppose the bill as well, and the House leadership abandoned the vote entirely.
After the vote, the Democratic leadership denied having any role in putting the attempted ban in the bill in the first place, with Rep. Harmon (D-CA) claiming it was a “mystery” how the ban found its way into the bill in the first place.
President Obama had already threatened to veto the bill, saying it infringes on the rights of the executive branch. President Obama has already effectively banned torture with an executive order, and he reportedly objected to the bill on a number of other grounds.