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GOP beats back sneak attack on CIA interrogators

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 25, 2010 10:07 PM

Earlier today while the nation was focused on health care Oba-Kabuki, Andy McCarthy sounded the alarm on a Democrat sneak attack on CIA interrogators:

The Obama Democrats have outdone themselves.

While the country and the Congress have their eyes on today’s dog-and-pony show on socialized medicine, House Democrats last night stashed a new provision in the intelligence bill which is to be voted on today. It is an attack on the CIA: the enactment of a criminal statute that would ban “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The provision is impossibly vague — who knows what “degrading” means? Proponents will say that they have itemized conduct that would trigger the statute (I’ll get to that in a second), but it is not true. 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.

The act goes on to make it a crime to use tactics that have been shown to be effective in obtaining life saving information and that are far removed from torture.

Well, House Republicans were on the ball and tonight, they forced the intel bill that contained the stealth measure to be pulled:

A controversial bill that would have levied criminal punishments on intelligence officers for harsh interrogations was pulled Thursday evening.

House Republicans charged Democrats with trying to sneak a provision into the intelligence authorization bill that would establish criminal punishment for CIA agents and other intelligence officials who engage in “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” during interrogations.

Democrats inserted an 11-page addition into the bill late Wednesday night as the House Rules Committee considered the legislation.

The provision, previously not vetted in committee, applied to “any officer or employee of the intelligence community” who during interrogations engages in beatings, infliction of pain or forced sexual acts. The bill said the acts covered by the provision would include inducing hypothermia, conducting mock executions or “depriving the [detainee] of necessary food, water, sleep, or medical care.”

The language gave Congress the discretion to determine what the terms mean, and it would have imposed punishments of up to 15 years in prison, and in some cases, life sentences if a detainee died as a result of the interrogation.

Republicans criticized the language and the way it was introduced.

“This will fundamentally change the nature of the intelligence community by creating a criminal statute governing interrogations,” said Rep. Pete Hoesktra (R-Mich.).

He added that it had appeared “out of nowhere” in a manager’s amendment.

The Dems lied, transparency died.

Shout about this one from the rooftops.

And hey, you remember that White House Chief Technology Officer who dared Tea Party activists to challenge the Democrats on transparency? Let’s see a blog post condemning these backroom, disclosure-undermining tactics on the White House blog, shall we?

***

GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra comments here.

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