House votes to end CIA rendition program, ACLU says
A little noticed prohibition in the Democrats’ $50 billion Iraq funding bill that passed the House Wednesday would effectively end CIA renditions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU, one of the largest nonprofit organizations fighting the Bush Administration on torture and civil liberties issues, lauded House members for passing the bill, which faces a rocky road in the Senate.
The Iraq funding measure revises the Army Field Manual to prohibit torture and abuse, including waterboarding, and authorizes an array of specific interrogation tactics. It specifically states that CIA operatives must adhere to these rules as well.
“The House of Representatives made great progress last night by passing legislation that reinforces the ban on torture and abuse by any government body or official,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in a release. “This could end the CIA’s use of torture if signed into law. America does not stand for torture and Americans can now know that no element of our government is engaged in torture. This will begin to restore America’s tarnished image at home and abroad.”
CIA renditions involve what some call an illegal practice of capturing terror suspects abroad and engaging in harsh interrogation techniques, shuffling them through different countries and sometimes handing them over to countries that practice torture as a matter of course to extract information.
The bill would fund the Iraq for an additional four months and demands the withdrawal of troops to begin in 30 days. It is unlikely to be passed by the Senate in its current form.
If the bill now fails to pass in the Senate or is vetoed by the president, the Pentagon will be forced to borrow from its budget to finance the occupation starting Nov. 17, 2007. Congress used the approaching deadline for an extension to include language not only banning torture, but also provisions that will reduce troops and force a new mission in Iraq.
“The House voted last night to stop the Bush administration from playing word games with anti-torture laws,” Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel, added in the release. “The Army Field Manual spells everything out in clear black-and-white language, with no room for any lawyer to weasel around its protections. If the Army Field Manual is good enough for America’s men and women serving in uniform, it should certainly be good enough for civilians.”
Also Thursday, a new report indicated that Ukraine airstrips had been used in CIA renditions.