Washington, DC -- Today Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, condemned the compromise on redefining America’s commitments under the Geneva Conventions announced by President Bush yesterday.

“For the Bush Administration, the air is too thin on the moral high ground,” Rep. Markey said.  “While the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress may be breathing a little easier today, our troops abroad may be in jeopardy because of this serious erosion of the protections in the Geneva Conventions."

The compromise reached between White House negotiators and Senators John McCain (R-AZ), John Warner (R-VA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who had opposed the President’s initial legislation for military tribunals, grants retroactive immunity to American officials who may have ordered or committed war crimes since 1997.  The agreement, if enacted into law, will also make many practices which are prohibited by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions legal under American law.

“By using legal mumbo-jumbo to obscure the fact that the CIA will continue to be allowed to use torture and will actually be insulated from legal liability for previous acts of torture, President Bush is proceeding ever further down the slippery slope that Colin Powel warned us will endanger American troops in the field by encouraging other countries to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions,” Rep. Markey concluded.

Rep. Markey is a long-standing advocate for human rights, and has led the fight in the House of Representatives to end the practice of extraordinary rendition.  He is the author of H.R. 952, the Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act, which would outlaw the use of extraordinary rendition as well as the use of so-called “diplomatic assurances” as the basis for transfers of persons to countries that are known human rights violators.  In June 2006, Rep. Markey successfully amended the Defense Appropriations bill to bar the use of any funds in contravention of United States’ commitments under the Geneva Conventions.  That amendment currently awaits further action in the U.S. Senate.

For more on Rep. Markey’s work on banning torture and extraordinary rendition, please visit http://markey.house.gov

September 22, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein