Feinstein, King press intelligence nominee on torture

Senators ask if he has read Intelligence Committee report

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, is the president's nominee for director of national intelligence.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool File Photo)
Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, is the president's nominee for director of national intelligence. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool File Photo)
Posted May 13, 2020 at 3:13pm

The senator who led production of a landmark report on the CIA's use of torture tactics wants more direct answers about waterboarding from President Donald Trump's nominee to be director of national intelligence.

Senate Judiciary ranking member Dianne Feinstein of California has joined with Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, in asking DNI nominee and Texas GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe to detail his views on the use of torture by the United States.

"During your confirmation hearing, when asked by Senator King whether you personally believed that waterboarding was a violation of anti-torture law, you again refused to answer directly, saying only that, 'The law makes clear in several places that torture is illegal.' In fact, we agree with you that U.S. law clearly outlaws all torture, as do several U.S. treaty obligations," Feinstein and King wrote. "However, Senator King’s question deserves a clear and unequivocal answer since President Trump has vowed to 'bring back waterboarding [and] bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.'"

Both King and Feinstein are members of the Intelligence Committee, and Feinstein is a former chairwoman of the committee. It was during her tenure as chairwoman that panel investigators produced a report on the use of torture in secret prisons under the direction of the CIA during the George W. Bush presidency.

The senators asked Ratcliffe, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, to answer whether he has read the executive summary of the Senate committee's report.

"Do you believe that any of the CIA’s former enhanced interrogation techniques are consistent with the Detainee Treatment Act?" the senators wrote. "Do you believe that any of the CIA’s former enhanced interrogation techniques are consistent with the U.S. statutory prohibition on torture?"

The senators also asked Ratcliffe whether he believed any of the former tactics were consistent with other U.S. and international obligations, seeking a response prior to Senate votes on his nomination.