Protest Against U.S. Torture Erupts in Senate

A protest against U.S.-sanctioned torture interrupted Senate debate on Monday.

Capitol Hill police officers quickly escorted at least eight individuals out of the largely empty gallery after they stood up and began shouting: "U.S. torture, it's official, prosecute now."

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois was speaking on the floor when the protest began, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.

The individuals are members of the group Witness Against Torture, according to one participant, who was not immediately apprehended by Capitol Hill police. The group was formed in 2005 with the aim of shutting down the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

"We believe that torture is illegal," said Janice Sevre-Duszynska, who identified herself to National Journal as an ordained Roman Catholic priest. "It's not in our Constitution, our country is breaking international law, we're not following any of the international humanitarian law, and it's totally against everything we believe in as a people in this country."

The participants specifically called out former Vice President Dick Cheney, chanting "Prosecute the torturers.... Cheney is not above the law."

Last month, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a landmark report, which found that the Central Intelligence Agency mismanaged its detention and interrogation program and use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques during the Bush administration.

The panel also concluded that the interrogation program was ineffective and that the CIA systematically misled Congress, the White House, and the public about the severity of the methods used at foreign black sites.

Cheney, who was vice president at the time of the CIA program's implementation, in December defended the methods revealed in the report, saying, "I'd do it again in a minute."

Protesters from Witness Against Torture and Code Pink were reportedly arrested outside Cheney's Virginia home this weekend.

The protest occurred while the Senate is in the midst of debate on the Keystone XL pipeline, a controversial oil-sands project designed to transport heavy crude from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Dustin Volz contributed to this article