The Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ban U.S. officials from subjecting detainees to a number of interrogation and detention techniques widely considered to be torture.
In a 78-21 vote, a bipartisan group of lawmakers approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would outlaw the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques such as waterboarding, "rectal feeding," mock executions, hooding prisoners and sexual humiliation - tactics that were previously justified as part of the War on Terror, reported The Associated Press.
The amendment would require U.S. government interrogators to adhere strictly to techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual, which would have to be updated every three years to ensure it complies with U.S. law and "reflects current evidence-based best practices for interrogation that are designed to elicit reliable and voluntary statements and do not involve the use or threat of force."
It also gives the International Committee of the Red Cross "prompt" access to every detainee held by the U.S. government, AP reports.
The measure was introduced by Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who was tortured as a prisoner in Vietnam, and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which released a scathing report in December documenting torture methods employed by the CIA in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
"I know from personal experience that abuse of prisoners does not provide good, reliable intelligence," McCain said in a statement, according to The Hill. "I firmly believe that all people, even captured enemies, are protected by basic human rights."
Feinstein said the amendment was necessary to prevent a future president from lifting the current presidential executive order banning torture.
"I ask my colleagues to support this amendment and by doing so we can recommit ourselves to the fundamental precept that the U.S. does not torture - without exception and without equivocation - and ensure that the mistakes of our past are never repeated in the future," she said, reported AP.
In December, Feinstein's Senate Intelligence Committee released a 500-page executive summary outlining findings from its 6,000-page secret report on CIA torture practices. The committee found that the CIA had used a number of "cruel, inhuman and degrading" torture techniques on terrorism suspects from 2002 to 2008, which led to false confessions, fabricated information and produced no useful intelligence about imminent terrorist threats, reported the LA Times.