WASHINGTON – House and Senate negotiators working on an intelligence bill have agreed to limit CIA interrogators to techniques approved by the military, which would effectively bar them from using such harsh methods as waterboarding, congressional aides said Wednesday.
Members of the House and Senate intelligence committees decided to include the ban while working out differences in their respective bills authorizing 2008 spending for intelligence programs, according to the aides, who spoke anonymously because the negotiations were private. Details of the bill are to be made public Thursday.
That will set the stage for another veto fight with President Bush, who last summer issued an executive ordered allowing the CIA to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" that go beyond what's allowed in the 2006 Army Field Manual.
The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 prohibited cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment for all detainees in U.S. custody, including CIA prisoners. CIA Director Michael Hayden last year prohibited the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning, but has been publicly silent on other interrogation techniques.
In a speech in September to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Hayden said he does not believe the CIA should be constrained by military interrogation rules. "It's clear that what it is we do as agency is different from what is contained in the Army Field Manual," he said. "The CIA handles a very small number of senior Al Qaeda leaders."
Hayden contended that CIA interrogators are older and as a rule better trained than military interrogators. "We weren't consulted about the Army Field Manual, and no one ever claimed that the Army Field Manual exhausted all the lawful tools that America could have to protect itself," he said.
The 384-page manual describes 19 legal interrogation techniques, including "good cop/bad cop," "false flag" -- making prisoners think they are in the custody of another country -- and the separation of a prisoner from other prisoners for up to 30 days at a time.
It prohibits waterboarding and sensory deprivation. Prisoners may not be hooded or have duct tape put across their eyes. They may not be stripped naked or forced to perform or mimic sexual acts. They may not be beaten, electrocuted, burned or otherwise physically hurt. They may not be subjected to hypothermia or mock executions. It does not allow food, water and medical treatment to be withheld, and dogs may not be used in any aspect of interrogation.
The CIA has waterboarded three prisoners since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but none since 2003, according to an official with direct knowledge of CIA operations. The official spoke anonymously to discuss classified information.
Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First, hailed the committees' decision to limit the CIA to military-approved interrogation techniques.
"There should be no daylight between the humane treatment standards that the military lives by and those applicable to the CIA," she said. "Experienced interrogators have repeatedly said that the Army Field Manual gives them everything they need to get actionable intelligence from dangerous prisoners."