Yesterday, the House passed a bill that bans waterboarding and holds the CIA “to the interrogation tactics permitted by the Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations.” President Bush has said he would veto the bill.
But he may not get the opportunity. Earlier today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) placed a hold on the Senate version of the bill, blocking it from coming to a vote. He said the bill was “ill-advised” and would “destroy” a “lawful” program:
The Senate was prevented from voting on the intelligence bill because Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., placed a hold on it while the GOP procedural challenge goes forward.
“I think quite frankly applying the Army field manual to the CIA would be ill-advised and would destroy a program that I think is lawful and helps the country,” Graham said in an interview.
Graham’s effort to protect Bush’s torture policies directly contradicts his recent anti-torture rhetoric. Just this week, Graham raked Brigadier General Thomas W. Hartmann, the legal adviser at Guantanamo Bay, over the coals for refusing to call waterboarding torture, even if done by Iranian “secret security agents” on an American pilot.
Given his record, the gap between Graham’s rhetoric and his legislative action isn’t altogether surprising.
In October, Graham hinted that he might oppose Michael Mukasey’s nomination unless he said waterboarding was illegal. But after Mukasey continued to refuse to explicitly call waterboarding torture, Graham reneged and helped push Mukasey through the Senate.
So, despite the fact that Graham believes a person doesn’t need “a lot of knowledge about the law” to know that waterboarding “violates” [the] Geneva Convention,” he is now blocking efforts to outlaw the CIA’s use of it.