Byron York at the Washington Examiner‘s Beltway Confidential reports:
I just got an urgent call from a Republican source on the House Intelligence Committee. The House is about to debate the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 2701), and, with all eyes are on the health care summit, Democrats have slipped into the bill a new provision that would establish criminal punishments for CIA agents and other intelligence officials who engage in “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” during interrogations…
“This was done without committee review and without any feedback or input from the CIA,” says the House source. “It just showed up in the middle of the night. It specifically targets those who are keeping us safe. It doesn’t respond to what happened at Ft. Hood or Detroit. Instead, it targets the CIA for new criminal punishments.”
That’s right, they’re still trying to go after the guys who kept us safe after 9/11. They’re still trying to redefine the word “torture,” making it so broad that it becomes meaningless. Andy McCarthy at NRO’s The Corner has more details, and notes:
The provision is impossibly vague — who knows what “degrading” means? … The proposal says the conduct reached by the statute “includes but is not limited to” the itemized conduct. (My italics.) That means any interrogation tactic that a prosecutor subjectively believes is “degrading” (e.g., subjecting a Muslim detainee to interrogation by a female CIA officer) could be the basis for indicting a CIA interrogator.
If telling a terrorist that Mohammed was a dumb jerk is considered torture, what isn’t torture?
They lost the debate on this issue a long time ago (thank you, Mr. Cheney), so now they’re just trying to sneak it into legislation while everybody’s distracted by Obama’s three-ring summit.
McCarthy sums it up best:
Here is the fact: Democrats are saying they would prefer to see tens of thousands of Americans die than to see a KSM subjected to sleep-deprivation or to have his “phobias exploited.” I doubt that this reflects the values of most Americans.
P.S. By the way: Waterboarding — as practiced by the interrogators who’ve been pilloried by the left and are targeted in this proposed legislation — isn’t torture. Any interrogation technique you can perform on one of your comrades at a protest without getting arrested isn’t torture. The only argument I’ve heard to the contrary boils down to: “Well, KSM was scared and thought he was going to die. Even though he was in no danger of it. And they made sure he knew that. But still. Torture. Torture! Why are you a torturer, you torturer?”
P.P.S. Sounds like this is getting the proper pushback. The Washington Times reports:
The House Democratic leadership stopped a vote Thursday night on the $50 billion classified intelligence budget after Republicans mounted a campaign against one of its provisions to ban degrading treatment of detainees and some moderate Democrats indicated they would not vote for the bill…
Courtney Littig, a spokeswoman for the House intelligence committee said, “To my knowledge the first time we learned of the McDermott amendment was when we received copies of the amendments from the Rules Committee [Wednesday] afternoon.” Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat, was the original author of the provision, known as the Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Interrogation Prohibition Act of 2010.
Jim McDermott. Good to know.
Also from the Washington Times article:
The McDermott amendment would have outlawed measures such as threatening detainees, using prolonged isolation and applying duct tape over a prisoner’s eyes. It would also prohibit an interrogator from “using force or the threat of force to coerce an individual to desecrate the individual’s religious articles, or to blaspheme his or her religious beliefs, or to otherwise participate in acts intended to violate the individual’s religious beliefs.”
You thought I was kidding about these guys wanting prosecutions for saying mean things about Mohammed, didn’t you? Imagine if Congress tried to go after everybody who blasphemed Jesus. HuffPo would have to set up an underground railroad for Bill Maher. Maybe a hidden tunnel under the Grotto.
P.P.P.S. Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn explain how stupid and dangerous this underhanded crap would be, if enacted.
P.P.P.P.S. The bill just passed, with that provision stripped out.