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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in support of the Motion to Instruct on H.R. 2863 Department of Defense Appropriations. The Motion to Instruct was offered by Rep. Jack Murtha (D-PA) and mirrors a similar amendment offered in the Senate by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
“This critically important motion to instruct is identical to the amendment offered by Senator McCain – and passed 90-9 and by voice vote in the Senate – on the Defense Appropriations and Defense Authorization bills.
“This motion would do two things. First, it would establish the Army Field Manual as the uniform standard for the interrogation of Department of Defense detainees. There is still much confusion about which interrogation techniques are permissible – and this confusion has been fomented by a White House that believed the Geneva Conventions were outmoded and inapplicable.
“Secondly, this motion would prohibit ‘cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment’ of detainees. Thus, it is consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture.
“Sadly, this prohibition on torture is necessitated by the Administration’s own actions: its endorsement of interrogation tactics that border on torture (anything short of ‘organ failure’), and a large number of documented cases of abuse, torture and homicide in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“While the President stated in November that ‘we do not torture,’ his own Vice President has worked against this motion and sought legal language that would allegedly allow the CIA to utilize torture tactics against foreign prisoners it is holding overseas.
“As Senator McCain, himself a victim of torture at the hands of North Vietnamese, recently stated: the Administration’s position ‘means that America is the only country in the world that asserts a legal right to engage in cruel and inhumane treatment.’
“The Administration’s position on this matter is simply not defensible. It undermines our credibility in the world. It harms our efforts in the war on terror. It makes more likely the exposure of our own troops to torture. And, it completely betrays our cherished American values.
“This is not a question of whether we must combat – and defeat – terrorists. We must. This is an issue of who we are as a People. And we must never let it be said that when this generation of Americans was forced to confront evil that we succumbed to the tactics of the tyrant; that we stooped to the depths of the dictator.
“This congress has the responsibility under Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution to make ‘rules concerning captures on land and water.’ That is a responsibility that we must embrace today, and not delegate to a zealous executive branch.”