February 8, 2006- House Panel Refuses to Investigate Torture Outsourcing

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Today the House of Representatives International Relations Committee voted (24-Y,16-N) to reject a Resolution of Inquiry introduced by Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) which demanded information from the Department of Defense, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the White House on the people who have been subjected to “extraordinary rendition” the U.S. to countries where they may face torture or other forms of cruel or degrading treatment or punishment.

“I have asked the Administration many times to provide with documents related to this program, including the so-called “diplomatic assurances” that supposedly guarantee that transferred detainees will not be tortured, but the Administration has failed to provide me with satisfactory responses. It appears that some innocent people who were never charged with any crime fell victim to renditions.  Some of these people were beaten with electrical cables, nearly drowned, and subjected to electrical shock,” said Rep. Markey.  “I can not stand by as the Administration runs a program which effectively outsources torture.  I was forced to introduce this resolution because the Republican Congress has failed to exercise any real oversight over these practices.  I am disappointed that the Committee isn’t willing to investigate this issue.”

Today three Resolutions of Inquiry into the Administration’s extraordinary rendition program and its non-compliance with international Laws that prohibit torture were voted down in a largely party line vote by the House Committee on International Relations. 

The Markey resolution was backed by Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"This important resolution provides Congress a key opportunity to exercise oversight over the outsourcing of torture to countries with highly questionable human rights records.  The United States must not stand for torture -- either by government agents or by proxy in Syria, Egypt or any nation whose torture chambers continue to use beatings, electric shocks and threats of rape as interrogation tactics," said Alexandra Arriga, Director of Government Relations for Amnesty International USA.

“I firmly believe the U.S. can win the war on terror without compromising the values that we are fighting for.  I have introduced the Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act (H.R. 952) that prohibits sending detainees to countries will they will likely be tortured.  It currently has 65 cosponsors, and I will continue to work to get more support,” said Rep. Markey.

The Markey resolution which was reported to the House with a negative recommendation today, would have obtained documents in the possession of various agencies involved in the decision-making process regarding the rendering of persons by the U.S.  Under the resolution, such documents were to include, but not be limited to— “any reports, memoranda or other documents indicating whether the government of any such country subsequently tortured or subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment any person rendered, transferred, or returned to that country by the United States Government.”

Please see Rep. Markey’s website for more information on his work to end the practice of ‘outsourcing torture’ - http://www.house.gov/markey/

February 8, 2006


CONTACT: Tara McGuiness
Jeff Duncan
Nicole Gasparini