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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriatiations Act, 2007

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to speak about a very important provision in the Defense Appropriations Act for 2008, which yet again confronts President Bush over his inhumane and un-American torture policies.

I want to thank Chairman MURTHA for agreeing once again to include my language regarding torture in this bill. The provision, in Section 8104 of the bill, states that none of the funds in the Defense Appropriations bill may be used in contravention of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. This is a crucial provision because, as we all know, for years the President has been willing to ignore our obligations under international and domestic law to protect the basic human rights of detainees. This disregard for treaty and legal obligations also undermines our efforts in the war on terror, serving as a valuable recruiting tool for terrorists and putting our brave men and women in uniform at risk of similar mistreatment if captured by our enemies.

I have inserted this provision into a number of funding bills over the past several years, and I will continue to do so until we can legislatively restrain this and every future President from intentionally misinterpreting our obligations to respect the fundamental human rights of all people. In the period of the Republican majority, I had to come to the floor and offer amendments to insert this funding restriction into the appropriations bills. Fortunately, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle agree that our obligations to treat individuals humanely are paramount, and my amendment repeatedly prevailed with near unanimity. I commend Mr. MURTHA for including this language in the bill, which reflects his deep concern for our troops and his commitment to upholding our obligations to fundamental human rights.

With his policies of extraordinary rendition, President Bush has shipped countless prisoners to countries such as Syria and Uzbekistan where they are brutally tortured--without ever having been afforded a lawyer, a trial, or any opportunity to challenge their transfer based on probability of abuse. By allowing senior officers and officials to implicitly encourage the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, President Bush not only allowed a situation to develop where Americans horribly abused detainees but also created one of the greatest public diplomacy disasters in American history. By establishing a network of black-site CIA prisons around the world, where prisoners are held in total secret and without access to international monitors such as the Red Cross, the President engages in the grossest hypocrisy and undermines the very international protections for prisoners that our own troops abroad count on as their last line of defense should they be captured.

These policies must come to an immediate and permanent end. I look forward to passing my Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act to end extraordinary rendition once and for all, and it is essential that Congress reinstate habeas corpus. Until then, I am proud that the Congress will, with this funding restriction, once again bar any appropriations in violation of the Convention Against Torture.

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