Civil rights groups oppose expanded interrogation

By DONNA CASSATA | November 22, 2011 | 12:40 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — Civil rights groups are imploring lawmakers to oppose an effort by Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte to expand forms of interrogation of terrorist suspects.

In a letter to lawmakers Tuesday, more than 30 groups, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, argued that Ayotte's amendment to a defense bill would legalize torture and other cruelties by rolling back restrictions that Congress overwhelmingly approved in 2005.

The New Hampshire lawmaker's amendment would authorize new interrogation methods in addition to those established by the Army Field Manual to collect intelligence information.

The Senate resumes work on the defense bill next week. The White House has threatened a veto over provisions in the bill requiring military custody of terror suspects and limits on the transfer of detainees.