Press Release from Rep. Edward Markey, June 23 2004

Text of bill

Congressional Record: June 24, 2004 (Extensions)
Page E1225



                         HON. EDWARD J. MARKEY

                            of massachusetts

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, June 23, 2004

  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib were a 
national disgrace and have rightly been the subject of anger and 
condemnation. But another torture practice continues to go on without 
any public attention. Under the name ``extraordinary rendition'', the 
CIA reportedly sends terrorism suspects, sometimes on the flimsiest of 
evidence, to foreign countries that are known to employ torture in 
prisoner interrogation. This practice is against all U.S. and 
international law and is a moral outrage, and it must be stopped.
  The practice of extraordinary rendition, the extra-judicial removal 
of people in U.S. custody both domestically and abroad to foreign 
governments that are known to use torture, has received little 
attention because of the degree of secrecy with which it occurs. 
Attention was drawn to the practice in September 2002 when Maher Arar, 
a Canadian citizen, was seized while in transit to Canada through JFK 
airport, and sent to Jordan and later Syria at the request of the CIA. 
While in Syria, Arar was tortured and held in a dark, 3-by-6-foot cell 
for nearly a year. He was ultimately released and detailed his story to 
the media upon his return to Canada.
  Although the more recent numbers have not been made public, outgoing 
CIA director George Tenet testified to the 9/11 Commission in October 
2002 that over 70 people had been subject to rendition before September 
11, 2001. Human rights organizations including Amnesty International, 
Human Rights Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU 
have detailed numerous other cases and are pursuing litigation in some 
of them. On June 21, the Canadian government launched an investigation 
into Arar's case.
  My bill directs the State Department to compile a list of countries 
that commonly practice torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment 
during detention and interrogation, and prohibits rendition to any 
nation on this list, unless the Secretary of State certifies that the 
nation has made significant progress in human rights. It also specifies 
that written or verbal assurances from a foreign government that a 
person will not be tortured are not sufficient basis to override this 
prohibition. The bill explicitly permits legal, treaty-based 
extradition, in which suspects have the right to appeal in a U.S. court 
to block the proposed transfer based on the likelihood that they would 
be subjected to torture or other inhumane treatment.
  Extraordinary rendition is outsourcing torture, and it is morally 
repugnant to allow such a practice to continue. President Bush has 
asserted that `the values of this country are such that torture is not 
a part of our soul and our being.' The legislation I am introducing 
today is designed to ensure that we not only ban torture conducted by 
our own forces but we also stop the practice of contracting out torture 
to other nations. Torture enabled by extraordinary rendition is 
outrageous and must be stopped.