Panel moves to block torture rationale

Alan Fram
Associated Press
Jun. 24, 2004 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - A House committee Wednesday voted to bar the Justice Department from issuing legal justifications for torture as Congress continued to react to government memos that seemed to permit the practice.

The Senate, however, defeated 50-46 a measure that would have declared all U.S. officials bound by anti-torture laws.

The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee approved its provision by voice vote after sponsor Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., said the Justice Department has acted in "outlandish fashion" toward detainees in Iraq and elsewhere.

The Obey amendment forbids money in a bill funding the Justice, Commerce and State departments from being used "to offer or provide legal assistance of any kind which would support or justify the use of torture by any official or contract employee of the United States government."