The Bush administration is supporting a provision in the House leadership's intelligence reform bill that would allow U.S. authorities to deport certain foreigners to countries where they are likely to be tortured or abused, an action prohibited by the international laws against torture the United States signed 20 years ago.
The provision, part of the massive bill introduced Friday by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), would apply to non-U.S. citizens who are suspected of having links to terrorist organizations but have not been tried on or convicted of any charges. Democrats tried to strike the provision in a daylong House Judiciary Committee meeting, but it survived on a party-line vote.
The provision, human rights advocates said, contradicts pledges President Bush made after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal erupted this spring that the United States would stand behind the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Hastert spokesman John Feehery said the Justice Department "really wants and supports" the provision.
Human rights groups and members of Congress opposed to the provision say it could result in the torture of hundreds of people now held in the United States who could be sent to such countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan and Pakistan, all of which have dubious human rights records.
Supporters say the measure would provide a much-needed change to U.S. laws.
"Our laws are not up to date with the war we're fighting," Feehery said. In many cases, he said, the Justice Department "can't keep [terror suspects] in detention, they can't convict them, they don't want to try them. . . . If you can't detain them indefinitely, you sure don't want them in America."
Oh, the poor "Justice" department, unable to detain innocent people like they want. Surely we can find "friendly" countries glad to torture these people on our behalf. To Mr. Feehery I say: It is you and Hastert and Ashcroft and Bush that I don't want in this country. I know Hastert, Ashcroft and Bush have taken oaths to uphold the constitution; by supporting this provision they have violated that oath. Traitors.