ACLU Lauds Markey Bill to End Extraordinary Rendition, Calls Government Sponsored Kidnapping and Torture Un-American

March 6, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media@dcaclu.org

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) for introducing legislation to ban extraordinary rendition. The "Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act" would forever stop the federal government from secretly kidnapping people and sending them to torture cells run by foreign governments.

"This administration's practice of rendition violates the very core principles America stands for," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congressman Markey’s bill makes it clear that the United States must follow the rule of law and that we respect the American values of freedom and accountability. We urge Congress to adopt this necessary measure."

Over the past several years, the United States government has acted illegally in targeting persons, sometimes on the basis of mistaken identity, kidnapping them without ever making an arrest or seeking charges in any court, and then shipping them off to foreign torture cells. This practice of extraordinary rendition has been highlighted in the cases of Canadian national Maher Arar and German national Khaled El-Masri.

Congressman Markey’s "Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act" would forever prohibit the federal government from sending persons to foreign torture cells. It closes all of the loopholes that have been opened by unprecedented administration interpretations of the laws governing torture.

The practice of rendition occurs even though Congress has acted at least twice to prohibit the federal government from transferring persons to foreign countries that torture or abuse people. The State Department now believes that those laws do not apply when the federal government seizes people in foreign countries, and argues that it can send persons to foreign torture cells on the basis of nothing more than a promise that the foreign country will not engage in torture.

The Markey bill not only reinforces the ban on extraordinary rendition but also shuts other loopholes by prohibiting transfer to an intermediary country that will then transfer the person to a torture country, ensuring judicial review of the torture question during treaty-based extraditions, and requiring the federal government to issue new regulations implementing the law.

"Congress must enact the Markey bill to preserve our commitment to freedom," said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "It’s time to forever stop the federal government from secretly kidnapping people and sending them to foreign governments that commonly use torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment in detention or interrogation. Congress must bar the government from sending people to places like Syria and Egypt where they are tortured."

The ACLU’s letter on the "Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act" is available at: www.aclu.org/safefree/general/28778leg20070305.html

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