Today, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), leader of the effort in the House to stop the Bush Administration sending detainees to other countries that engage in torture, called for a full accounting of the U.S. policy of extraordinary rendition in the wake of a official Canadian investigation into the case of Maher Arar shed new light on the U.S. practice of transferring detainees abroad for torture



“Extraordinary rendition is simply the outsourcing of torture, and this repugnant practice must be stopped in the United States, in Canada, and everywhere it is used,” Rep. Markey said.  “It took a Supreme Court ruling to force the Bush Administration to finally acknowledge the existence of secret incarcerations in black sites overseas – now the time has come to admit the secret interrogations carried out by proxy in countries known to use torture. 

“The Arar Commission’s report leaves no question that the United States transferred Maher Arar to Syrian custody for interrogation – which virtually ensured that he would be tortured.  The Arar case is a black eye for the United States and a punch in the gut to our moral authority, just as President Bush addresses the United Nations on the Middle East and tries to convince Congress to unilaterally revise the Geneva conventions,” Markey continued.

During a layover in New York’s JFK airport in September 2002, Canadian citizen Maher Arar was seized by American officials and questioned for two weeks.  He was then transferred to Syria, where he was tortured, abused, and forced to make false statements, the Arar Commission report concluded.  Mr. Arar was released after 10 months in Syrian prison, and has never been charged with any crime.  The report of the Canadian government’s Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar was released Monday.

“Unfortunately, the United States Congress has so far failed to conduct any real oversight over the role that the U.S. government has played in such transfers.   We need hearings on the U.S. practice of extraordinary rendition to examine whether the actions of the U.S. government in the Arar case -- and others like it -- are consistent with the Convention Against Torture, which bars the transfer or rendition of any person to a country that is likely to subject them to torture or other cruel or degrading treatment,” Rep. Markey concluded. Rep. Markey long has been a critic of 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 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.


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September 18, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein