Conyers, Nadler, Cohen and Raskin to Trump: Torture is Wrong and Your Black Sites Order is Illegal

Jan 25, 2017 Issues: Trump, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) joined Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), all members of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, in a statement following the New York Times report on a forthcoming Executive Order on “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants.”  The order would permit the CIA “to reopen ‘black site’ prisons, like those where it detained and tortured terrorism suspects before President Obama shut them down.”  The order would also reverse President Obama’s decision to give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all wartime detainees in U.S. custody. 

Congressman Nadler, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intellectual Property and former Chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, joined House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Subcommittee on the Constitution Ranking Member Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Vice-Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD), in releasing the following joint statement in reaction to the report:

“President Trump seems to have learned nothing from our recent history with torture.  Because the moral dimension of this decision appears lost on the new Administration, perhaps the White House can be persuaded to change course by the law.

“So-called ‘black sites’ are illegal, and have been explicitly so since the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.  Any attempt to reopen these facilities would open our intelligence and military personnel to prosecution for war crimes under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

“The Red Cross will continue to have access to detainees in our custody as a matter of law.  The McCain-Feinstein Amendment to the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act explicitly wrote this basic safeguard into the statute.  Any executive order to the contrary is simply unlawful.

“The Mc-Cain Feinstein Amendment also limits interrogation methods to those listed in the Army Field Manual. 

“Simply put, President Trump may not authorize a return to torture without action by the Congress—and I will resist any such effort.

“There is a better way, Mr. President.  Virtually every expert on the subject—including some you have chosen to serve in your Cabinet—have told us that torture is illegal, ineffective, and wrong.  This executive order will not enhance our national security.  It will instead dismay our allies and give our enemies a new platform for propaganda.  It will betray our values.  I urge you to reconsider.”

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