Bishop objects to Bush veto


U.S. Representative Tim Bishop this week denounced a March 8 veto by President Bush of legislation outlawing eight harsh interrogation methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency since the September 11, 2001 attacks.?Mr. Bishop’s Republican challenger for the 1st Congressional District seat, Lee Zeldin, supported Mr. Bush’s veto.?The veto centered on the CIA’s use of waterboarding, an interrogation technique that some lawmakers, including Mr. Bishop, have characterized as a form of torture.?Waterboarding involves restraining a person on their back, resting a damp cloth over their face and pouring water over the cloth. The act is supposed to simulate the sensation of drowning.?The legislation would have limited the CIA’s interrogation methods to those outlined in the Army Field Manual, which in addition to ruling out waterboarding, bans other methods, including placing prisoners in extreme temperatures and extended standing positions. The CIA has used waterboarding on at least three prisoners since September 11, 2001.?Mr. Bush’s veto legalized the CIA’s interrogation policy and sanctioned the use of methods like waterboarding on suspected terrorists.?Mr. Bishop called the policy “insidious” because it is basically “U.S.-sponsored torture of prisoners.”?Meanwhile, Mr. Zeldin said that harsh interrogation methods are necessary in certain situations in order to protect American lives.?”My top priority is protecting my family, and if that is going to hurt someone’s feelings in some other part of the world, then so be it,” he said.?Mr. Bishop said of Mr. Zeldin’s stance: “I’m very distressed that my opponent is mindlessly buying onto these fear tactics put forward by the Bush administration since September 11.”?On March 8, Mr. Bush said in a radio address that the veto of the legislation was necessary because the CIA needed to have aggressive interrogation techniques in order to pry sensitive information from suspected terrorists.?Legislation to make waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods illegal, the president said, “would take away one of the most valuable tools in the war on terror.”?”The fact that we have not been attacked over the past six and a half years is not a matter of chance,” Mr. Bush said. “It is the result of good policies and the determined efforts of individuals carrying them out. We owe these individuals our thanks, and we owe them the authorities they need to do their jobs effectively.”?The House of Representatives unsuccessfully voted to override the veto on March 11, with the override failing, 225-188, about 50 votes short of the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto.?In a statement to CIA employees, CIA Director Michael Hayden spoke in support of the March 8 veto and defended the interrogation methods as lawful and effective. At a congressional hearing on February 5, Mr. Hayden confirmed that the CIA had used the methods on at least three people since the September 11 attacks.?”Although we share the duty of defending America and America’s values, the U.S. Army and CIA clearly have different missions, different capabilities and therefore different procedures,” Mr. Hayden wrote. “CIA’s program, a tightly controlled and carefully administered national option that goes beyond the Army Field Manual, has been a lawful and effective response to the national security demands that terrorism imposes.”?Mr. Bishop said he was “distressed” about Mr. Hayden’s endorsement of the methods and cautioned the policy could put American military personnel at risk if detained by an enemy that would use the same interrogation techniques.?He also questioned whether waterboarding was an effective way to gather intelligence and fight terrorism.?”By sanctioning torture, I think we are sinking to a level that does not become us as a nation,” Mr. Bishop said. “We certainly do not want our own soldiers to be subjugated to the same torture that our Army now is allowed to use.”?On the issue of waterboarding as a legal form of interrogation, Mr. Zeldin, a former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and officer with the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s office, said he supports using it in certain circumstances, such as before an attack similar in scope to September 11.?Mr. Zeldin said while being trained as an Army intelligence officer, he received a “basic overview” of tactics that are legal for interrogating prisoners but never received any training on how to perform the tactics.?”I would not feel bad for Mohammed Atta being put in discomfort if it prevented thousands of Americans from losing their lives on September 11,” Mr. Zeldin said, referring to the leader of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks. “In a very limited and controlled situation, I find waterboarding to be necessary.”?Mr. Bishop said waterboarding is morally wrong and puts America in a bad light abroad. He added that, “there is ample evidence that the ‘intelligence’ that is derived from torture is not reliable information.?”To invoke Mohammed Atta, to invoke references to September 11, is part of the all fear, all the time tact that the Bush Administration has taken. I think that is a detriment to us,” Mr. Bishop said of Mr. Zeldin’s remarks. “The issue is what is our government is going to stand for—what is considered right and what is considered wrong. We need to reclaim our moral rectitude that we have lost sadly under this administration.”?Defending his position, Mr. Zeldin said, “For all the members of Congress that support my belief, I salute them for taking the hard stance on tough issues.”

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