WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- White House pressure managed to convince a bipartisan group of lawmakers to exempt the CIA from prohibitions against torture.
Last fall the Senate approved, 96-2, a bill that explicitly extended to the CIA a prohibition against torture or inhumane treatment, which would have required the spy agency and the Pentagon to tell Congress how they interrogated terror suspects, the New York Times said Thursday.
But in October the White House sent a letter to select lawmakers opposing the measure because it "provides legal protections to foreign prisoners to which they are not now entitled under applicable law and policy."
The four lawmakers who bowed to the White House's request for exempting the CIA from using torture were Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.
A Congressional Democrat said the White House left the impression "that the administration wanted an escape hatch to preserve the option of using torture" against prisoners held by the CIA, the newspaper reported.
The bill's final version included nonbinding language expressing a Congressional "sense" that U.S. personnel should not torture people.