Reuters' Patricia Zengerle reports via the Huffington Post on the latest work by Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado to expose and repudiate the practice of extreme interrogation methods used by American intelligence services, including "waterboarding."
A member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday disclosed the existence of a secret Central Intelligence Agency document that committee members believe supports their conclusions in a study highly critical of "waterboarding" and other harsh counterterrorism practices.
Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, demanded the document – a CIA study of the interrogation techniques – at a confirmation hearing for Caroline Krass, President Barack Obama's nominee to be the CIA's general counsel.
Udall said he would not support Krass' nomination until the previously undisclosed document was provided, raising the possibility that he might use a "hold" to stop the nomination…
During the hearing, Krass told Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the committee, that she did not believe members of the Senate panel had the right to see documents that provide the legal basis for CIA actions, such as waterboarding.
Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins said she was "troubled" by Krass' answer.
It's worth noting that the CIA general counsel nominee, Caroline Krass, reportedly did agree that the interrogation practice known as "waterboarding" amounts to torture, which would presumably mean she considers it illegal under U.S. law. If you accept that, this is a dispute about congressional oversight more than the underlying policy. Either way, Sen. Udall has consistently pushed for greater accountability on a variety of intelligence matters, including the major revelations this year of continued and even expended domestic PATRIOT Act-justified surveillance under President Barack Obama. Here then is another case of Udall's willingness to push back on his own party's administration in defense of principle.
With all of that noted for the record, we had meant to call attention earlier to another recent invocation of "waterboarding," albeit metaphorical, by a politician from Colorado–and this seems as good a place as any. As KUNC's Bente Birkeland reported late last week:
For conservatives, last session wasn’t pleasant. 2013 saw the passage of stricter gun laws, civil unions, driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, same day voter registration and renewable energy standards for electric coops.
“Last session was the absolute worst session,” said Senator Steve King (R- Grand Junction). “It was like waterboarding, it seems like every time I caught my breath we were in the middle of more torture.” [Pols emphasis]
Folks, here we have an example of one of the rarer breeds of Republican–one who admits "waterboarding" is torture. Sen. Steve King can forget all about campaign donations from Dick Cheney! Maybe King could get a little love from John McCain if that's really how he feels, except that's the kiss of death in Republican politics.
Of course, knowing Sen. King as we do, he probably didn't mean "torture," you know, in a bad way.