Bush to veto CIA waterboarding ban bill: aide

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will veto legislation on Saturday banning U.S. intelligence agents from using waterboarding and other controversial interrogation methods, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said on Friday.

President George W. Bush makes a statement about the economy outside the Oval Office at the White House in Washington March 7, 2008. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Last month, Congress sent Bush a broad intelligence authorization bill that contained new limits on CIA interrogation techniques, despite Bush administration warnings that such a measure would be rejected.

“The president will veto the intelligence authorization bill tomorrow,” Fratto told reporters.

The legislation was approved by the Senate and House of Representatives on partisan votes that did not indicate there was enough support in Congress to overturn Bush’s veto.

Waterboarding, in which suspects are subjected to simulated drowning, has been widely criticized by many members of Congress, human rights organizations and other countries.

The technique was used on three suspects captured after the September 11 attacks, CIA Director Michael Hayden informed Congress last month.

In writing the legislation, supporters said it would put CIA interrogation techniques in line with the U.S. Army Field Manual, which prohibits waterboarding and other controversial methods.

The Bush administration has countered that the CIA should not be held to the U.S. military’s interrogation standards because intelligence agents are dealing with terrorists who are not lawful combatants operating under traditional battlefield tactics.

“President Bush’s veto will be one of the most shameful acts of his presidency,” charged Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat who supported the legislation outlawing waterboarding.

Quoting the Army Field Manual, Kennedy said, “‘Use of torture is not only illegal but also it is a poor technique that yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say what he thinks the wants to hear.’”

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Tabassum Zakaria, editing by Philip Barbara