Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) hasn’t been known for criticizing the Bush administration’s interrogation techniques. In fact, his most famous comment on the issue came in December 2007, when he compared waterboarding to “swimming”:
GWEN IFILL: Do you think that waterboarding, as I described it, constitutes torture?
SEN. KIT BOND: There are different ways of doing it. It’s like swimming, freestyle, backstroke. The waterboarding could be used almost to define some of the techniques that our trainees are put through, but that’s beside the point. It’s not being used.
The AP reports that Bond appears to have had a change of heart and is searching for a “compromise” over how the CIA can interrogate prisoners. In a letter to fellow senators yesterday, Bond proposed explicitly outlining what tactics are banned, rather than which ones are allowed:
Rather than authorizing intelligence agencies to use only those techniques that are allowed under the AFM [Army Field Manual], I believe the more prudent approach is to preclude the use of specific techniques that are prohibited under the AFM. In this way, the Congress can state clearly that certain harsh interrogation techniques will not be permissible. At the same time, this approach allows for the possibility that new techniques that are not explicitly authorized in the AFM, but nevertheless comply with the law, may be developed in the future.
Specified prohibitions in conjunction with intelligence interrogations would include: forcing the detainee to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner; placing hoods or sacks over the head of a detainee and using duct tape over the eyes; applying beatings, electric shock, burns, or similar forms of physical pain; “waterboarding”; using military working dogs; inducing hypothermia or heat injury; conducting mock executions; and depriving the detainee of adequate food, water or medical care.
Bond’s proposal isn’t much of a compromise. Sure, it would ban waterboarding. But it would also give interrogators an unprecedented amount of leeway and still permit acts such as religious desecration. What exactly constitutes “similar forms of physical pain”?
The AFM doesn’t need to be rewritten, as Bond proposes. Both FBI Director Robert Mueller and Lt. Gen. Michael Maples of the Defense Intelligence Agency have testified to Congress that the current AFM — which does not allow waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation tactics — provides them with “the tools that are necessary for the purpose under which we are conducting interrogations.”