The Senate voted 51 to 45 for an intelligence bill that would bar harsh interrogation techniques by CIA agents. The legislation puts intelligence agencies under the same restrictions that already apply to military interrogators. The Senate vote came in the wake of a White House acknowledgement that the CIA used simulated drowning, also known as waterboarding, on suspected leaders of al Qaeda. The aggressive pursuit of terrorists and respecting Americans' civil liberties are not incompatible, Senator Bernie Sanders believes. "The lack of esteem that countries all over the world have for the United States today is probably now at an all time low," he said. "This is a tragedy for a number of reasons, not least of all that it limits our ability to bring together the international coalitions that we need to fight terrorism. One of the reasons that disrespect for us is so high is because of the Bush administration's willingness to condone torture. To my mind this is unacceptable, and it's not a policy that the United States should not be a part of."
The Senate turned to the CIA authorization bill one day after senators - over the opposition of Senator Bernie Sanders - handed the White House a victory for a separate bill expanding the government's spy powers. The bill also would give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush's program of eavesdropping without warrants. Sanders voted "no," but the surveillance law passed 68 to 29. While the House and Senate grappled with ways to work out major differences between their two bills, Congress prepared a 21-day extension of a temporary law governing electronic surveillance. The president stubbornly said he would refuse to sign a temporary extension.