[Congressional Record: August 3, 2007 (Senate)]
[Page S10894]


  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, most of my colleagues are well aware that I 
have been pushing for a ban on the practice of anonymous holds for 
several years. I believe that holds are an acceptable parliamentary 
tactic, but I firmly believe that it is inappropriate for Senators to 
use them secretly. If Senators wish to object to the consideration of a 
particular bill or executive nominee, they should be required to do so 
publicly, so that their objections can be discussed and debated in full 
view of the American people. Today, I am announcing my objection to any 
unanimous consent request to bring the nomination of John Rizzo to the 
Senate floor for approval.
  The President has nominated Mr. Rizzo to be General Counsel of the 
Central Intelligence Agency, CIA. When Mr. Rizzo appeared before the 
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence a few weeks ago, I asked him 
about a now-infamous legal opinion that was prepared by the Department 
of Justice in 2002. This opinion, commonly known as the ``Bybee memo'' 
includes shocking interpretations of U.S. torture laws, and essentially 
concludes that inflicting any physical pain short of organ failure is 
not torture. Most Americans would agree that this conclusion is over 
the line, and this is why the Administration revoked the memo as soon 
as it became public.
  John Rizzo was the acting general counsel of the CIA at that time, 
and I asked him if, in hindsight, he wished that he had objected to 
this memo. I was disappointed to hear him say, even with the benefit of 
five years' hindsight, that he did not.
  Much more recently, about 2 weeks ago the President issued an 
Executive order interpreting Common Article Three of the Geneva 
Conventions and how it applies to CIA detentions and interrogations. 
This Executive order refers to classified CIA guidelines. I have read 
these guidelines, and I believe that they have suffered from a clear 
lack of effective legal oversight. Since John Rizzo is once again 
acting general counsel of the CIA, I believe that he bears significant 
responsibility for this situation. I am not at all convinced that the 
techniques outlined in these guidelines are effective, nor am I 
convinced that they stay within the law.
  The last thing that I want to see is hard-working, well-intentioned 
CIA officers breaking the law because they have been given shaky legal 
guidance. These men and women dedicate their lives to serving their 
country, and they deserve better than that. They deserve to know that 
they are on firm legal ground when they are doing their jobs, and that 
they can rely on the legal advice of their general counsel.
  I should also note that I disagree with the President's decision to 
interpret the Geneva Conventions as broadly as he did, although this 
does not excuse Mr. Rizzo from responsibility. The Director of National 
Intelligence, Mike McConnell, discussed these techniques on television 
recently and stated that he wouldn't want any Americans to undergo 
them. I don't think it would be acceptable to use these techniques on 
Americans either, but the President's new interpretation of the Geneva 
Conventions says that it is okay for other countries to use them on 
Americans when they are captured. This is also unacceptable.
  I believe that you can fight terrorism ferociously without tossing 
aside American laws and American values, and I worry that the 
administration and CIA lawyers may be losing sight of this. I was 
disappointed to hear John Rizzo say that he did not wish he had 
objected to the 2002 torture memo, and I was even more disappointed 
when I read these guidelines. Our intelligence agencies cannot fight 
terrorism effectively unless programs like this one are on a solid 
legal footing. Mr. Rizzo's record demonstrates that he is prepared to 
let major programs go forward without a firm legal foundation in place.
  This is why I have come to the conclusion that John Rizzo is not 
qualified to be the general counsel of the CIA. I plan to vote against 
Mr. Rizzo's confirmation in committee, and when it comes to the floor I 
will object to any unanimous consent agreement to consider his 
nomination until I am satisfied that our national counterterrorism 
programs, and particularly the CIA detention program, have the solid 
legal foundation that they need.