Democratic Congressman Sylvestre Reyes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has proposed an amendment to the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act that would hold any "officer or employee of the intelligence community" who "in the course of or in anticipation of a covered interrogation knowingly commits, or attempts to commit or conspires to commit an act of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" would face criminal sanctions of up to fifteen years, even life if it results in the death of the detainee.
The amendment, referred to as the "Cruel, Inhuman And Degrading Interrogations Prohibition Act" of 2010, lists several prohibited acts, including waterboarding, "forcing the individual to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner", beatings, electric shocks, use of dogs, inducing hypothermia or heat injury, stress positions, deprivation of necessary "sleep, food or medical care" and conducting mock executions.
Other prohibited acts include using the threat of force to "coerce an individual to desecrate that individual's religious artifacts," excessive cold or heat, cramped confinement, prolonged isolation, and use of hooding.
The amendment would also implement criminal sanctions for medical professionals who assist in such interrogations. According to the language of the amendment, "any medical professional who in the course of or in anticipation of a covered interrogation knowingly commits or attempts to commit an act of medical malfeasance with the intent to enable an act of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" would also face criminal sanctions. An act of "medical malfeasance" adds five years to the original offense.
Byron York, who first reported the existence of the amendment, said it had already been inserted into the bill and quoted a House Intelligence Committee staffer, presumably from the minority side, who said Republicans would try to strip the measure out of the bill, but not before they tell "people what's going on."
Presumably, this kind of treatment was outlawed by the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act anyway. But given that the only thing that's standing between a future Republican administration and torture might be an executive order, this amendment would strengthen current anti-torture laws by adding the threat of criminal sanctions for those who participate in illegal interrogations.
-- A. Serwer
*Post edited for clarity.