December 15, 2007 – Senate Republicans blocked a bill yesterday that would restrict the interrogation methods the CIA can use against terrorism suspects.
The legislation, part of a measure authorizing the government’s intelligence activities for 2008, had been approved a day earlier by the House and sent to the Senate for what was supposed to be final action. The bill would require the CIA to adhere to the Army’s field manual on interrogation, which bans water boarding, mock executions and other harsh tactics.
Senate opponents of that provision, however, discovered a potentially fatal parliamentary flaw: The ban on harsh questioning tactics had not been in the original versions of the intelligence bill passed by the House and Senate. It was a last-minute addition during negotiations between the two sides to write a compromise bill, a move that could violate a Senate rule intended to protect legislation from last-minute amendments that neither house of Congress has had time to fully consider.
Although it’s not unheard of for new language to be added in House-Senate negotiations, the rules allow such a move to be challenged and the language stripped from the bill.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, placed a hold on the intelligence bill, preventing a Senate vote.