- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The House yesterday sustained a White House veto on an intelligence bill that called for banning the CIA from using the interrogation technique known as waterboarding.

Republicans said the measure would have significantly compromised national security. Democrats, who crafted the bill, said torture is not an effective intelligence-gathering method and is morally wrong.

The measure to override the veto was defeated by a vote of 225-188, falling about 50 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass. Five Republicans voted to overturn President Bush’s veto, while three Democrats voted to sustain it.

“This bill is just the latest example of the complete and utter failure of this Democratic leadership in the House to give the intelligence community the tools that it needs to protect the American people and our allies from radical jihadists,” said Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Supporters of the legislation said it would have preserved the intelligence community’s ability to collect critical information while raising the moral standing of the United States.

“The prohibition on torture that the president vetoed protected our values, protected our military and diplomatic personnel and protected Americans by ensuring accurate intelligence,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. “Our ability to lead the world will depend not only on our military might but also on our moral authority.”

The bill, which Mr. Bush vetoed Saturday, would have limited the CIA to the 19 interrogation techniques allowed for use by the military. The Army Field Manual in 2006 banned methods such as the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding or sensory deprivation on uncooperative prisoners.

Mr. Bush said the legislation would have removed one of the country’s “most valuable tools in the war on terror” — the CIA interrogation program to detain and question people suspected of being terrorist leaders or key operatives.

Mr. Bush also said that limiting the CIA’s interrogation methods to those in the field manual would be dangerous because the manual is publicly available and easily accessible on the Internet.

In other business, the House last night voted 229-182 to create an independent office to investigate ethical lapses among its members.

The new Office of Congress Ethics would be charged with looking into suspected misconduct and making recommendations to the House ethics committee, which still would have final say on issues of guilt or innocence. It would comprise six persons appointed by the Democratic and Republican leaders. Current members, federal employees and lobbyists would not be eligible.

Most Republicans voted against the Democrat-backed plan.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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