Erstwhile (and deeply missed) blogger Katherine has returned to Obsidian Wings with a very important post. Under cover of the “9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act of 2004”, House Republicans are attempting to pass a law which would legalize “extraordinary rendition”—the practice of deporting foriegn-born suspects to a country which practices torture, in order to get information our government feels it cannot extract legally. From a press release sent to Katherine by the staff of Rep. Edward Markey (a Massachusets democrat who has sought to ban such extraordinary rendition):
The provision would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to issue new regulations to exclude from the protection of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, any suspected terrorist – thereby allowing them to be deported or transferred to a country that may 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,” would bar the courts from having jurisdiction to review the Secretary’s regulations, and would free the Secretary to deport or remove terrorist suspects to any country in the world at will – even countries other than the person’s home country or the country in which they were born. The provision would also apply retroactively.
This provision was not part of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, and the Commission actually called upon the U.S. to “offer an example of moral leadership in the world, committed to treat people humanely, abide by the rule of law, and be generous and caring to our neighbors.”
It’s difficult for me to express what a terrible, immoral piece of legislation this is. This is a shameful and cowardly attempt to sneak language legalizing the outsourcing of torture into a bill claiming to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. Katherine urges bloggers to link to this post, and US readers to contact their representatives and object to this harmful measure (Markey is sponsoring an amendment to remove this provision). If the blogosphere really has any ability to break stories, we should be spending our firepower here. I’m willing to bet this law won’t get passed if it is publicized before passage, but it might get through in some hasty, last-minute bill passing if it is overlooked. Don’t let it happen.