BIDEN Reiterates Call to Ban Waterboarding and Other Forms of Torture
Following recent statements by the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) reiterated his call for the Senate to support the National Security with Justice Act (S.1876), legislation that prohibits all United States personnel from using on a detainee any interrogation technique not expressly authorized by the Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.
During last week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Michael Mukasey justified the use of waterboarding and stated that, while the United States is not currently using this technique, it remains available as one of a number of alternative interrogation techniques. Yesterday, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and defended the use of waterboarding against three al Qaeda operatives in 2002 and 2003.
"General Hayden stated that in 2002 and 2003, the CIA had used waterboarding, conduct universally regarded as torture," said Sen. Biden, former Chairman and senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Attorney General Mukasey last week stated that the Administration can use waterboarding again if the President feels it is justified. Congress must act to clarify that United States law prohibits waterboarding and all other forms of torture. I call on my colleagues to support the National Security with Justice Act."
In July, Sen. Biden introduced the National Security with Justice Act to reform the United States' policies on the apprehension, detention, treatment and transfer of suspected terrorists. The legislation, among other things, unambiguously prohibits any United States personnel, including members of our intelligence services, from torturing and mistreating detainees. Specifically, Senator Biden's bill closes this loophole by prohibiting all officers and agents of the United States from using techniques of interrogation not authorized by the Army Field Manual.
The National Security with Justice Act will:
Prohibit the Torture or Mistreatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody
This legislation closes gaps intentionally left in the President's July 20, 2007 Executive Order to allow the CIA to use interrogation techniques prohibited by the Army Field Manual. The legislation prohibits all U.S. personnel, including the CIA, from using interrogation techniques not authorized in the Field Manual.
Close Black Sites & Extra-Judicial Prisons
This legislation will prohibits U.S. detention of terrorism suspects in secret, extraterritorial prisons such as CIA "black sites." Under this legislation, the United States must timely transfer terrorism suspects to legal custody in the United States or a foreign country that will not torture or mistreat them.
Prohibit Extraordinary Rendition
This legislation creates new safeguards by requiring intelligence services to apply for and obtain an order of rendition - similar to an arrest warrant for national security purposes - from the FISA Court prior to any rendition. The application and order process ensures that rendition is used only if we have solid intelligence indicating that the suspect is a dangerous terrorist. Most importantly, the bill prohibits rendition to countries that torture or mistreat detainees or to secret prisons. The bill includes an emergency exception allowing intelligence services to obtain an order of rendition after taking an individual into custody (but always before that individual is turned over to another country) when special circumstances exist.
Modify the Definition of "Unlawful Enemy Combatant"
This legislation changes the Military Commission Act's definition of the term to clarify that U.S. citizens or lawfully admitted aliens taken into custody within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States cannot be considered unlawful enemy combatants. These individuals must be prosecuted within the criminal justice system.
Extend Habeas Corpus to Detainees
This legislation repeals the provisions in the Detainee Treatment Act and Military Commission Act that purport to deprive Guantanamo detainees of the writ of habeas corpus - the ability to argue to a court of law that they are being held in error. The legislation clarifies that all detained terrorism suspects held by the United States can invoke habeas corpus to challenge their classification as an unlawful enemy combatant and their conviction by a military commission of a war crime.