U.S. House: Interrogations Must Be Videotaped

Amendment Still has to Clear Senate.

Video to the rescue.

 The House yesterday adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require interrogations conducted by the Defense Department like, say, those at Guantanamo, to be videotaped.

 “This straightforward videotaping requirement may do more to shut down the government's torture program than many of the new laws passed by Congress,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU senior legislative counsel. ACLU has pushed for the taping. “Federal interrogators will soon learn what hundreds of police departments using videotape for interrogations have learned – it's harder to break the law when the camera is running,” he said.

 That could potentially give the TV news media more visuals if there is another story of alleged torture, but not necessarily. "There could be places where interrogation tapes could be made public in the same way that other transcripts are declassified in some certain cases." But he also said the bill keeps in place the government's ability to classify material.

 The bill still has a long way to go. The Senate is expected to take up the Defense bill next month. The videotaping must make it onto that bill, or be added when the House and Senate bill are reconciled in committee. Then it faces a veto threat from the administration.

 The videotaping applies to all Defense Department employees and CIA employees as well, but only at Defense Department facilities. Anders concedes that is a limitation of the legislation, but points out it comes from the fact that it is as Defense Authorization bill.


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