Dianne Feinstein Leaves The Door Open

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Incoming Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, released another statement today, in the hopes of clarifying her position on what standards the Obama Administration should use to govern interrogations. This follows her comments earlier this week, which left open the possibility of abandoning her past proposal to use the Army Field Manual as the interrogation rulebook for all government agencies, including the CIA. Today, Feinstein makes clear that she still wants a law that mandates the Field Manual as the sole interrogation standard, but that she may be willing to be talked back from that position by the Obama Administration, if it chooses to do so. As Matt Drudge would say, developing. . .

Here is the new Feinstein statement:

I strongly believe there should be a single, clear standard for interrogation across the federal government, and that this standard should comply with the Geneva Convention, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and U.S. law. I plan to introduce legislation in January that would close Guantanamo, make the Army Field Manual the single standard for interrogations, prohibit contractors from being used to carry out interrogations and provide the International Committee of the Red Cross with access to detainees. If the incoming administration decides to propose an alternative to this legislation, I am willing to hear its views. But I believe we must put an end to coercive interrogations by the CIA.

UPDATE: Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s spokeswoman, Jenny Hoelzer, forwards a clarifying statement about Wyden’s position. (The statement was drafted in response to a blog post by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald.) An excerpt:

When Senator Wyden and his colleagues worked to come up with a bill that would end coercive interrogations, they seized upon the Army Field Manual because, while it was a somewhat arbitrary standard. it was universally agreed to be legal, humane and noncoercive.  As you may or may not be aware, under current law, the Army Field Manual can be revised by the Executive Branch without prior consent from Congress.  This is to allow for the possibility of incorporating other legal, humane and noncoercive interrogation techniques that might be discovered to be effective in the future.  Just because the Army Field Manual is currently the best available standard for interrogation does not mean we can’t do better. . . . To suggest that Senator Wyden is backtracking from his position is misleading and wrong.  Rather he believes that Congress owes it to the American people to pass the best possible law, to make sure that interrogations are effective and that the abuses of the last 8 years are never repeated.