ACLU Encouraged with Senate Hearing on Extraordinary Rendition

July 26, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union was encouraged today by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled Treatment of Detainees. The committee met to discuss extraordinary rendition, extraterritorial detention and the treatment of detainees held in U.S. custody. The ACLU hopes the hearing is a step towards passage of legislation aimed at ending these un-American practices.

“The ACLU is glad to see the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting to discuss America’s policies of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons. The idea of sending people to foreign countries where they are tortured is illegal and immoral,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “This is the first time that the Senate has held a public hearing on the issues of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons, and we hope that it is the start of a full investigation of these horrific practices. The United States must live up to our own high standards of freedom and democracy.”

Extraordinary rendition is the practice of kidnapping or capturing people and sending them, without any legal process, to countries that use torture or abuse. The government has sent detainees to countries infamous for their mistreatment of prisoners, including Syria, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt.

The administration’s rendition policy was disclosed by Jane Mayer in February 2005, in her piece, “Outsourcing Torture – The battle over ‘extraordinary rendition’” in the New Yorker. Since then, the ACLU has been vigorously working to end the policy, including a recent lawsuit aimed at the Boeing subsidiary that serviced the flights. The C.I.A. also operates secret prisons, which were first disclosed in 2005 by the Washington Post.

“The Senate needs to ensure that the government’s use of torture, abuse and illegal detention ends,” said Christopher Anders, legislative counsel for the ACLU. “There could not be anything less American, or more illegal, than the federal government running secret prisons in Europe, or outsourcing torture by shipping people off to torture countries such as Syria and Egypt.”

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