Updates on the House Republicans' attempt to legalize "Extraordinary Rendition":
1. The Justice Department supports it.:
Hastert spokesman John Feehery said the Justice Department "really wants and supports" the provision.
Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo said, "We can't comment on any specific provision, but we support those provisions that will better secure our borders and protect the American people from terrorists."
2. The American Bar Association opposes it:
The American Bar Association objects strongly to the inclusion of provisions authorizing "extraordinary rendition" in the House leadership's bill that purports to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. These provisions would permit secretly transferring terrorist suspects to foreign countries known to use torture in interrogating prisoners. Extraordinary rendition not only violates all basic humanitarian and human rights standards, but violates U.S. treaty obligations which make clear that the U.S. government cannot avoid its obligations under international law by having other nations conduct unlawful interrogations in its stead. This practice not only violates our own cherished principles as a nation but also works to undermine our moral leadership in the eyes of the rest of the world.
3. The 9/11 Commission opposes it.
The House bill contains a number of proposals that go significantly beyond the commission's recommendations," said former representative Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.), the commission's vice chairman. "We respectfully submit that consideration of controversial provisions at this late hour can harm our shared purpose in getting a good bill to the president before the 108th Congress adjourns." ...
Hamilton said items that should be dropped include "alien-removal provisions." The House bill contains several measures that would make it easier for the government to deport undocumented immigrants who have fallen under suspicion for various reasons. They include a broader application of "expedited removal" rules, higher barriers to obtaining asylum, and relaxed standards for sending foreigners to countries where they might be tortured.
4. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes it, as well as several other anti-immigrant provisions in the bill.
"This would raise the likelihood that torture victims would be sent back to their torturers," Bishop Wenski said.
5. "All attempts by Democrats to alter or strike the immigration and law enforcement enhancements were defeated on party-line votes" in committee, including Congressman Markey's amendment.
But this isn't over. Here is an update from Markey's staff:
We are unlikely to get a new base text of the HR 10 floor language until sometime on Tuesday. At that time, we will know whether they have done anything to affect the torture outsourcing language. We will be filing our amendment at Rules on Tuesday, and Rep. Markey will testify before the Rules Committee at its hearing on the Rule for House Floor consideration of HR 10, which is expected to take place Wednesday. On Thursday, the bill is expected to come to the House floor. Assuming our amendment is made in order under the Rule (which is not guaranteed), we would vote on the amendment on Thursday, and probably also on final passage (though this could slip to Friday depending on what else is going on on the House floor).
If you oppose this bill, it is more critical than ever that you write to your representative about it. Here is a short letter you can cut and paste if you don't have time to compose your own letter:
I am writing to you to express my strong opposition to Sections 3032 and 3033 of H.R. 10, the "9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act." Section 3032 and 3033 would make it legal for the Secretary of Homeland Security to deport people to be tortured in other countries. We call this "extraordinary rendition", but a more accurate term would be "outsourcing torture." The 9/11 Commission itself opposes Section 3032 and 3033.
Please vote in support of Representative Edward Markey's amendment to remove Section 3032 and 3033 and replace them language outlawing "extraordinary rendition" from his bill, HR 4674*.
Your vote on this issue will strongly influence my vote on election day.
6. Congressman Markey has written a letter to President Bush asking him directly whether he supports torture outsourcing. Excerpt:
Mr. President, on June 22, 2004, following the revelations of the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, you made a strong statement condemning torture. At the time you stated:
"Let me make very clear the position of my government and our country. We do not condone torture. I have never ordered torture. I will never order torture. The values of this country are such that torture is not part of our soul and our being."
Just yesterday a newspaper quoted a Justice Department spokesperson as saying that the Department supported thses provisions. In light of your strong statement against torture and the Justice Department's apparent endorsement of the provisions, I respectfully request your views on Sections 3032 and 3033 of H.R. 10. In light of the impending House floor vote on this bill on the week of October 4th, I request that you please let the Congress know now--before the vote--where you stand on this issue, before we take up and approve a provision that would legitimize the outsourcing of torture to other countries."
I expect President Bush to ignore Markey's letter or to brush off these questions without an answer, just as the administration have brushed off his previous letters.
My last post on this subject got a lot of unexpected and much-appreciated attention from other bloggers, and even a few links from the mainstream press. So I want to ask--very loudly ask-- a direct question to any members of the media who might end up reading this post:
Newspapers have reported that the second highest ranking official in the Department of Justice signed the order deporting Maher Arar to Syria, and that the President has signed a secret "finding" authorizing extraordinary renditions.
But George W. Bush and his press secretary have never, ever been asked about what happened to Maher Arar. Nor have they ever been asked about their position on extraordinary rendition.
If you would like a reporter to see that question, please link to this post. And thanks again to everyone who linked to the last one and/or wrote their representative.
NOTE:If you're concerned about this issue please check Obsidian Wings from time to time for updates. Throughout the weekend and early next week, I will be posting on specific examples of "extraordinary rendition" in practice (including some information about the Maher Arar case, but not only that.)
edited to hunt down rogue html tags and bring them to justice.
*corrected. Thanks to reader Andrew.