[Congressional Record: September 21, 2006 (Extensions)]
[Page E1777]



                         HON. EDWARD J. MARKEY

                            of massachusetts

                    in the house of representatives

                     Wednesday, September 20, 2006

  Mr. MARKEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about Maher Arar, 
whose treatment at the hands of American officials is a stain upon our 
national conscience.
  During a layover in New York's JFK airport in September 2002, Mr. 
Arar, who was born in Syria but who now holds Canadian citizenship, was 
seized by American officials. He was held without access to a lawyer 
for two weeks in the United States, then transferred briefly to Jordan, 
and finally to Syria. Mr. Arar was imprisoned in Syria for 10 months, 
most of the time in a dark underground dungeon the size of a closet. He 
was tortured both physically and psychologically, and forced to make 
false confessions, including that he had attended an al-Qaeda terrorist 
training camp in Afghanistan. Maher Arar was finally released a year 
after he was seized in New York, never having been charged with any 
  When he was in American custody in New York, Maher Arar demanded to 
speak to a lawyer. He was denied. He demanded to speak to a judge. He 
was denied. He asked the American officials not to send him to Syria, 
as he knew he would be tortured there. Of course, the Americans did not 
need to be told that Syria routinely tortures its prisoners, as the 
U.S. State Department lists Syria in its annual Human Rights report as 
a country that practices torture. Yet Maher Arar was sent to Syria for 
interrogation, where he was brutally tortured, just as the American 
officials involved in his rendition must have known he likely would be.
  Maher Arar was the victim of the Bush administration's program of 
``extraordinary rendition,'' whereby prisoners in American custody are 
sent abroad for interrogation in other countries, sometimes to places 
such as Syria and Uzbekistan that are known to routinely practice 
torture. This is a disgusting practice that brings dishonor to the 
United States of America, and ultimately endangers our troops in the 
field by validating the use of torture all over the world. 
Extraordinary rendition is nothing more than the outsourcing of 
torture, and this program must come to an immediate halt. The Torture 
Outsourcing Prevention Act, which I introduced in this House over a 
year and a half ago, would end the practice of extraordinary rendition. 
But the Republican leadership has refused to bring the Torture 
Outsourcing Prevention Act to the floor for a vote.
  Mr. Speaker, we don't have many details on the case of Maher Arar, 
because the Bush administration has refused to divulge any information 
on its program of extraordinary rendition and the rubber-stamp 
Republican Congress have refused to conduct any meaningful oversight 
over this program. Now that the President has admitted that the CIA 
operated secret prisons all over the world, the Congress must step up 
to the plate and conduct true oversight on the President's program of 
extraordinary rendition.
  This week, the official Canadian inquiry into the case of Maher Arar, 
which focused on the role that Canadian officials played in his 
rendition, released its report. The Arar Commission report clears Maher 
Arar of any wrongdoing, and concludes that he was indeed transferred to 
Syria by the United States, where he was tortured. American authorities 
were invited to testify before the Arar Commission, but refused.
  Canada has now completed its investigation into the injustice done to 
Mr. Arar by Canadian officials, who without any evidence of wrongdoing 
told the U.S. he had connections with terrorist organizations. Mr. 
Speaker, now this Congress must initiate our own investigation into the 
role that U.S. officials played in this affair. We must know the truth 
of what happened to Maher Arar, why it happened, upon whose orders, and 
upon what justification.
  That is why I have today introduced five separate Resolutions of 
Inquiry requesting copies of all documents in the possession of the 
United States Government that may relate, in any way, to Maher Arar. 
These five Resolutions direct the Secretary of State, the Secretary of 
Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Attorney General 
to provide Congress with all documents and records in their possession 
relating to Maher Arar. The same request is made of the President, in 
order to ensure that any documents in the possession of the White House 
or the Intelligence Community are also provided forthwith.
  The Congress, and the American people, must learn the truth of what 
was done to Maher Arar. I urge my colleagues to support these 
Resolutions of Inquiry.