US Senate votes to ban torture

Washington: The US Senate has passed an amendment banning torture with interrogation techniques like rectal feeding and waterboarding, media reported on Wednesday. The bilateral vote was 78-21.

"We must continue to insist that the methods we employ in this fight for peace and freedom must always, always, be as right and honourable as the goals and ideals we fight for," Republican Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and author of the amendment, said.

"Our enemies act without conscience. We must not," McCain said. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, would limit all officials of the US government to the interrogation and detention techniques described in the Army Field Manual.

This would imply making a law of an executive order issued in that respect by President Barack Obama soon after taking office in 2009, while expanding the scope of a law passed in 2005 that limited the Pentagon to these practices, but did not affect intelligence agencies like the CIA.

In addition, the Army Field Manual must now be revised every three years, and the International Red Cross is guaranteed "early" access to any person being held in custody by the United States government. Several months ago, Democrats of the Senate Intelligence Committee published a report on the interrogation procedures of the CIA.

Besides corroborating the use of torture after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the report said such practices were ineffective. Final approval of the amendment will depend, however, on the obstacles that turn up when the Senate votes on other NDAA articles, on which lawmakers have yet to reach an accord.

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