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Rep. Jerrold Nadler Headshot

No More Clever Wordplay on Torture

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On Wednesday, the House adopted H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act. By passing this bill, we declared that the time has come for our troops to redeploy out of Iraq, and, just as important, we affirmed America's values and our respect for the rule of law. This measure includes language drawn from legislation authored by myself and Rep. Delahunt that would ensure a single, uniform, baseline standard for all interrogations conducted on persons in the custody or effective control of the U.S. Government.

Our bill, H.R. 4114, the American Anti-Torture Act of 2007, would extend the first part of the McCain Amendment, which requires the Department of Defense to comply with the interrogation standards set forth in the Army Field Manual, to all government agencies. This would include the CIA -- the agency reportedly responsible for carrying out the Administration's "enhanced" or "alternate" interrogation program and for operating secret overseas prisons. Simply put, this language says once and for all no more torture and no more waterboarding. No more clever wordplay, no more evasive answers, and no more uncertainty with regard to what is allowed and what is not.

We do not need torture as an available instrument of interrogation. At a recent hearing in my Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, expert interrogator Steve Kleinman, Col., US Air Force Reserve, testified that torture yields unreliable information and that the Army Field Manual provides sufficient guidance for effective interrogation. Other military experts, including General David Petraeus, similarly have spoken out against torture and in favor of the Army Field Manual's standards of conduct.

Torture, including practices like waterboarding, violates the legal and moral standards of all civilized nations. While the notion that torture works has been glorified in television shows and movies, the simple truth is this: torture has never been an effective interrogation method. The language we adopted last night helps restore the honor of the United States, and forces the Administration to act in a manner consistent with the Constitution. Torture fails to make us safe, but it certainly makes us less free.

Congressman Nadler is the Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties