I implore you to support Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey in his efforts to explicitly outlaw the practice of “extraordinary rendition”, in which a terrorist suspect is extradited to another country where he will be tortured. Markey’s bill can be found at http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2004_cr/rendition-bill.pdf.
The torture of suspects is forbidden under the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Degrading and Inhuman Treatment. But we need not depend on the U.N. for guidance on the basic moral question of whether torture of human beings is an acceptable practice. The practice of government-sponsored torture is utterly incompatable with our American ideals.
If Markey’s bill is not passed, Section 3032 and 3033 of H.R. 10, the “9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004,” introduced by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), will effectively legalize extraordinary rendition. These sections would exclude any suspected terrorist from the protections of the U.N. Convention, therefore allowing them to be deported to a country that will engage in torture. The provision would put the burden of proof on the person being deported or rendered to establish “by clear and convincing evidence that he or she would be tortured.” This is clearly an impossible standard for a suspect being held in secret to overcome.
The law would place the power of extraordinary rendition in the hands of the Secretary of Homeland Defense. Furthermore, it would bar the courts from having jurisdiction to review the Secretary’s regulations. Much of the genius of our Constitution lies in its limits on government power. The threat of terror requires serious, aggressive countermeasures. However, it does not require that we abandon the wisdom of our fundamental principles, or the sanity of our system of checks and balances.
Again I ask, in the strongest possible terms, that you please support Congressman Markey’s bill.