On Tuesday, March 11, the US House of Representatives voted for the version of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008 that banned waterboarding and other forms of torture. The measure, previously passed by Congress, was vetoed by President Bush. This vote was an attempt to override the veto. It passed 225-188, but failed to get the 2/3 requirement to override the veto.
Only five Republicans voted to support the torture ban over the veto. Here is the speech Rep. Ron Paul gave before the vote:
I rise in somewhat reluctant support of this vote to override the President’s veto of H.R. 2062, the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2008. Although I voted against this authorization when it first came to the floor, the main issue has now become whether we as a Congress are to condone torture as official U.S. policy or whether we will speak out against it. This bill was vetoed by the President because of a measure added extending the prohibition of the use of any interrogation treatment or technique not authorized by the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations to the U.S. intelligence community. Opposing this prohibition is tantamount to endorsing the use of torture against those in United States Government custody.
We have all read the disturbing reports of individuals apprehended and taken to secret prisons maintained by the United States Government across the globe, tortured for months or even years, and later released without charge. Khaled al-Masri, for example, a German citizen, has recounted the story of his incarceration and torture by U.S. intelligence in a secret facility in Afghanistan. His horror was said to be simply a case of mistaken identity. We do not know how many more similar cases there may be, but clearly it is not in the interest of the United States to act in a manner so contrary to the values upon which we pride ourselves.
My vote to override the President’s veto is a vote to send a clear message that I do not think the United States should be in the business of torture. It is anti-American, immoral and counterproductive.