Sunday, December 7, 2008

Letter to citizen from Rep. Heath Shuler of NC, USA - re use of torture with detainees

Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your thoughts regarding the treatment of enemy combatants and terrorist suspects by the United States. Your views are important to me, and I appreciate hearing from you.
...I am deeply troubled by the CIA's use of highly controversial interrogation techniques. Such treatment does not comply with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. As General David Petraeus, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and countless other current and former military officers have attested, torture is an ineffective method of extracting reliable information from detainees, and sets a dangerous precedent that would jeopardize the safety of our military men and women overseas.

In the 110th Congress, several pieces of legislation have been introduced that intend to limit the use of certain interrogation techniques against security detainees by members of the intelligence community. H.R. 2082, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as reported out of conference on December 6, 2007, would generally bar any person, in the custody or effective control of either an element of the intelligence community or a contractor or subcontractor of the intelligence community, from being subjected to any treatment or interrogation tactic not authorized by the Army Field Manual. This prohibition would effectively bar the CIA and others from employing certain controversial interrogation techniques, such as water-boarding or sleep deprivation, regardless of whether the intelligence community had previously deemed such techniques as legally permissible.

H.R. 4156, the Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act of 2008, which was passed by the House on November 14, 2007, would generally bar all federal agencies, including the CIA, from using any treatment or interrogation tactic that is not authorized or listed by the Army Field Manual.

H.R. 1352, the Torture Outsourcing Prevention Act, prohibits the transportation of people by the United States for the purpose of detention, interrogation, or trial, and amends the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 to direct the appropriate government agencies to prescribe regulations to implement U.S. obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Finally, S.1872, the National Security with Justice Act of 2007 would prohibit a U.S. officer or agent from detention of an individual outside of the United States or transferring any individual to another legal jurisdiction in order to detain them. This legislation would also provide uniform standards for the interrogation of individuals by the U.S. government, and extend statutory habeas corpus to persons detained by the United States who have been determined to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant.

Our Constitution and laws apply to all Americans, and to all branches of government. They may not be ignored and are not open to imaginative reinterpretations. On December 20, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on the matter, examining the Justice Department's role in the use of torture in detainee interrogations. I look forward to working with my colleagues to address the results of these hearings. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind if I have an opportunity to act on any legislation related to this situation.

Again, thank you for sharing your views about this important matter. I encourage you to check my website at Here for continued updates on my work, and please do not hesitate to contact me again about those issues that are important to you. It is an honor to serve you in the U.S. Congress.


Heath Shuler



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