Washington, DC:  Today, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, introduced five Resolutions of Inquiry to force the release of information relating to the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was transferred by American officials to Syria where he was subsequently tortured.  While the Bush Administration has refused to release information to Congress detailing its program of extraordinary rendition, or even the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Arar’s detention, rendition, and subsequent torture, the official Canadian investigation into the case of Maher Arar was released this week, clearing Arar of any wrongdoing or association with terrorist organizations.


Rep. Markey said, “Canada has had its investigation into the case of Maher Arar, now we must have our own investigation here in the United States.  Since the Republican rubber-stamp Congress has so far refused to conduct any meaningful oversight over the President’s policies of outsourcing torture.  As a result, I have today introduced five separate Resolutions of Inquiry requesting copies of all documents in the possession of the United States Government that may relate, in any way, to Maher Arar.”

Rep. Markey’s five Resolutions of Inquiry being introduced today would force the release of any documents or records relating to Maher Arar in the possession of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, as well as request that the President and the intelligence community also turn over their documents.  Under House Rules, the five resolutions must be voted on by the House Committees on Armed Services, International Relations, Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Intelligence within 14 legislative days.  If they are not acted upon by each Committee by that time, Rep. Markey would be able to force a vote on the House floor on consideration of each resolution.  Such Committee action, or a House vote, would likely occur during a lame duck session following the November elections.

Rep. Markey has long been a critic of the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” and is the author of H.R. 952, the “Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act,” which would generally prohibit renditions to countries known to routinely practice torture or other cruel treatment, or believed likely to engage in such practices.  The Republican leadership has refused to bring H.R. 952 to a vote.

During a layover in New York’s JFK airport in September 2002, Mr. Arar, who was born in Syria but who now holds Canadian citizenship, was seized by American officials.  He was held without access to a lawyer for two weeks in the United States, then transferred briefly to Jordan, and finally to Syria.  Mr. Arar was imprisoned in Syria for 10 months, most of the time in a dark underground dungeon the size of a closet.  He was tortured both physically and psychologically, and forced to make false confessions, including that he had attended an al-Qaeda terrorist training camp in Afghanistan.  Maher Arar was finally released a year after he was seized in New York, never having been charged with any crime.

“Maher Arar was the victim of the Bush Administration’s program of ‘extraordinary rendition.’  This is a disgusting practice that brings dishonor to the United States of America, and ultimately endangers our troops in the field by validating the use of torture all over the world.  We must know the truth of what happened to Maher Arar, why it happened, upon whose orders, and upon what justification,” Rep. Markey concluded.


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September 20, 2006

CONTACT: Israel Klein