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Harman Urges Adoption of Anti-Torture Provision

Location: Washington, DC

Harman Urges Adoption of Anti-Torture Provision

December 09, 2005

~ Renews call to ban cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; set uniform standard for interrogation of detainees ~

WASHINGTON D.C. ---- In anticipation of votes next week on the FY2006 Defense Department Authorization and Appropriations conference reports, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), the Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee, again called for conferees to adopt the anti-torture amendment language authored by Sen. John McCain. Harman has introduced corresponding legislation in the House, H.R. 3985, the bipartisan Interrogation Procedures Act of 2005, which has 74 co-sponsors and has been endorsed by the Blue Dog Coalition.

H.R. 3985 prohibits cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of individuals in the custody of the U.S. government and is identical to legislation introduced by McCain that passed the Senate by a 90-9 vote. The Interrogation Procedures Act also requires U.S. personnel to abide by the Army Field Manual when detaining or interrogating a prisoner.

"Our troops and intelligence personnel have been forced to operate in a 'fog of law' - a patchwork of post 9/11 legal memos and policies that appeared to have condoned cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment," said Rep. Harman. "This legislation would empower agents in the field and clarify the rules governing interrogations so that there can be no doubt what conduct is permitted."

Additionally, thirty-three Blue Dogs recently sent a letter to Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Bill Young and Ranking Member John Murtha urging them to include the McCain anti-torture amendment in the FY2006 Defense Department Appropriations conference report. Blue Dog Rep. Mike Thompson (CA), a Vietnam combat veteran, authored the letter.

The text of the letter is below:

November 16, 2005
The Honorable Bill Young
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
H149 Capital
Washington , D.C. 20515

The Honorable John P. Murtha
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington , D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Young and Ranking Member Murtha:

As Members of the Blue Dog Coalition, we support a Senate-passed amendment that would establish clear guidelines for interrogating prisoners captured by our military. This amendment, proposed by Senator John McCain of Arizona, with 11 cosponsors, was approved as part of the FY2006 Defense Department Appropriations bill on a vote of 90-9 and is identical to language included in HR 3985, which a number of Blue Dogs have cosponsored.

As Blue Dogs, we believe we must not lose sight of the importance of combating terrorism. The threat of a terrorist attack still hangs over our nation. However, in our effort to defend the liberties that we cherish, we should not erode the very freedoms we seek to protect. Above all else, America must lead the world by example. We owe it to the world to hold ourselves to a higher standard and to demonstrate our commitment to democracy and human rights both at home and abroad. These are the values that distinguish us from our enemies and we must hold firm to these fundamental beliefs if we are to win the war on terror.

Recent reports of abuses committed against detainees in U.S. custody, such as the incidents at Abu Ghraib prison, suggest appalling acts that dishonor our military and our nation. It is important that in our effort to prevail in the war on terrorism we do not sacrifice the integrity and accountability of government and military officials. Therefore, we urge the inclusion of the McCain anti-torture amendment in the FY2006 Defense Department Appropriations conference report. Establishing the Army Field Manual as the uniform standard for the interrogation of detainees will reduce the significant level of confusion that still exists with respect to which interrogation techniques are allowed.

Thank you for your consideration.


Mike Thompson,CA
Jane Harman, CA
Dennis Cardoza, CA
Mike Ross, AR
Lincoln Davis, TN
David Scott, GA
Jim Cooper, TN
Loretta Sanchez, CA
Allen Boyd, FL
Jim Costa, CA
Michael H. Michaud, ME
Tim Holden, PA
John Salazar, CO
Dan Boren, OK
Melissa L. Bean, IL
Joe Baca, CA
Jim Matheson, UT
Ellen O.Tauscher, CA
Dennis Moore, KS
Charlie Melancon, LA
Steve Israel, NY
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., GA
Robert E. "Bud" Cramer
Marion Berry, AR
Harold E. Ford, Jr., TN
Collin C. Peterson, MN
Earl Pomerory, ND
Stephanie Herseth, SD
Mike McIntyre, NC
John Barrow, GA
Adam Schiff, CA
Gene Taylor, MS
Ben Chandler, KY

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